Monotony. Even the most engaged employees can experience it when faced with tedious tasks: “I dread filling out paperwork.” “If I have to make another vendor call, I’ll go crazy.” “Copy and paste. Copy and paste. I went to college for this?”
Even with the incredible advances in artificial intelligence, humans still haven’t found a way to eliminate such hated work chores as answering emails, dealing with difficult clients, and handling payroll. However, tiresome duties don’t have to suck the life out of otherwise focused team players.
To overcome feeling like a mindless drone when it’s time to tackle those underwhelming undertakings, the first step is to revise your mindset.
We’ve all had it happen: We’re blowing through a responsibility with clarity, ease, and — dare we say it? — enjoyment, even though it’s a task that usually leaves us feeling drained. The difference is probably an unaccustomed perspective. Perhaps the mood was lighter that day because of unexpected kudos from the C-suite. Maybe a new colleague brought laughter to a glum Monday morning. Whatever happened, it messed with the rhythm, changing the tune from a dirge to a rock anthem.
You don’t have to wait for a fortuitous, once-in-a-blue-moon event to motivate you through routine office tasks. In fact, it’s easier than you think to remain inspired even when you’re tasked with updating that massive database for the fifth time in a month. Here are four ways to defeat the doldrums.
1. Look for the magic in the mundane.
With your co-workers’ help, reframe your efforts and see them with fresh, eager eyes. David Disiere, founder and CEO of QEO Insurance Group, turns to his colleagues to find what he calls “the magic in the mundane.”
2. Combine boring jobs with things you enjoy.
How many times have you tuned in to your Spotify stations or listened to a favorite podcast while mowing the lawn or cleaning the bathroom? Apply that same fusion of enjoyment and duty to everything on your to-do list — especially the items that you keep putting off.
3. Switch between mundane and inspiring tasks.
Rather than doing all the things you love to do and leaving the ones you don’t until the end of the day, alternate between responsibilities. Switching regularly from your favorite to least liked core duties keeps you from hitting a wall and having a lousy stretch of uninteresting work.
4. Learn something new or challenge yourself.
Acting like a sponge instead of a bot builds your brainpower, stopping ennui in its tracks. As Maureen Metcalf of management consulting firm Metcalf & Associates, suggests: “If you are not sufficiently challenged, you may find ways to take on more responsibility or learn a new skill. Learning is often a great antidote to boredom, and it could prepare you for the next more challenging role.”