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Fight Repetitive Tasks Boredom By Hacking Your Passion

Fight Repetitive Tasks Boredom By Hacking Your Passion

We all work on repetitive tasks. When we add them to our to-do lists, we do so without enthusiasm, and it usually shows in the results we produce.

Lack of passion works like a contagious disease; it starts small with unfinished “small” tasks, and moves itself up until it kills your motivation to do just about anything due to backlog.

But of course, you already knew that.

Mundane repetitive tasks are not exactly glamorous. We’ve done them so many times that, as a result, we find them less enjoyable when compared to something we’ve never done before.

There’s a mechanism in our brain that plays with our ability to repeat tasks. Our brain is always seeking the next reward–it tries to identify new patterns that will reward us with a nice dose of happy juice (i.e., dopamine), which, of course, is impossible when our brain is searching for them based on old patterns (i.e., the repetitive tasks).

To bypass this mechanism, we must embrace a more “hands-on” approach and introduce new angles every now and then to keep our repetitive tasks fresh and interesting.

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Here are three tips I use to keep repetitive tasks fresh, my mind sane, and my spirits high.

Review finished tasks to keep morale high

Everyone tries to tell you how to achieve goals and “eat frogs.” It’s a glorified subject that keeps popping up from passionate self-help gurus and researchers from all over the world. Researchers try to synthesize the behavioral essence of task completion so they’ll be able to reproduce the desired effect in lab conditions. Gurus make it sound easy with their enthusiasm and simple tips that sound a lot like, “everyone can do it if you follow my mantra,” or something along those lines.

The truth is this: the easiest way to achieve a goal is by enjoying your to-do list.

But, what do you do when the road to your target is not that fun and you need to repeat the same task again and again? When you work on tasks that bum you out, you have to remember that it might not be fun to do that task, but it’s definitely fun to mark it complete!

Every major achievement in your life consists of a long list of minor victories. Once you come to terms with that simple fact, you begin to understand the anatomy of success (i.e. small and probably repetitive accomplishments).

Combine your to-do list with a “To-Done” list, a list of all the things you’ve accomplished thus far. It can be all the things you finished today, this week, this month, or even since you’ve started any given project.

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This list should be visited every time you complete a task to take its effect on you, and it’s the best way to refuel your passion. Checking off a task is nice; seeing many tasks checked-off is heavenly.

Create a “Slack Zone”

Stress is a motivation killer. The author of “Getting Things Done”, David Allen, suggests that you write down everything you have to do, so tasks won’t hover aimlessly in your head and you’ll reach the calm state of “Mind like Water.” This state reduces the aimless buzzing noise in your head, leaving you calmer, more focused, and more organized.

But what happens when repetitive tasks wear you down and you’re nearing a deadline with nothing to show? The aforementioned water spills from your ears!

When there’s no time to achieve what you planned, you start to obsess over that plan and lament the lack of time. Your plan, although written down meticulously and reviewed several times, invades your thoughts and sucks up any pleasure from doing just about anything which results in missed deadlines.

That’s why Laura Vanderkam suggests that you schedule slack into your program.

Who knows, maybe the added time will help you do even more than just that task?

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As long as you keep your focus and use the added slack to reach your goals on time, you’ll feel the levels of stress decreasing as you moods rises!

FYI: if you decide to do something else with that added time after you finish the job, that’s OK too and I’ll explain why below.

Mix business and pleasure

Recently, there’s a growing movement that supports the notion of having fun while you work. Although it might sound a bit counter-productive, it’s an excellent way to stay fresh and vent minor frustrations.

You should then schedule a break every 90-110 minutes and here’s why: we can’t focus too long on the same task, and this is especially true if that task is repetitive. Our body needs a break because it has its own rhythm.

We have an inner cycle that works like an actual clock called the Ultradian Rhythms. It’s a natural bodily rhythm that is responsible for alertness, focus, and even sleep. The spectrum works in intervals that spike for 90-110 minutes at a time in which it provides us a wide bandwidth to complete any given task.

After those 90-110 minutes, our focus spirals down and we find ourselves all over the place for about 20-25 minutes, this is a temporary slope in which we tend to wander around aimlessly watching cute cats on the web (usually).

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Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing amiss in seeing cute cats. Some researchers even suggest that it increases our productivity. But it’s not our ultimate goal–we’re after task-completion heaven, and that’s why it’s probably best if you schedule breaks during the Ultradian rhythm’s slump.

Working with our Ultradian rhythm helps us understand when our body needs to take a break. So make sure that you don’t schedule yourself to work on repetitive tasks while you’re in the Ultradian rhythm slump.

As you can see, overcoming task fatigue, especially repetitive tasks, requires us to be a bit more creative.

So what methods do you use to keep your passion and drive going?

More by this author

Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

The 5 Stages of Getting Over Cell Phone Distraction

The 5 Stages of Getting Over Cell Phone Distraction

“Good morning Sir. It’s 7 a.m. The weather is going to be cool today with chances of light showers.” From this wake-up call to working, cooking, drinking your cup of caffeine-elixir, and working out, do any of these activities involve you without your cell phone?

A mere device of convenience has smoothly transformed to become a major intrusion. With cell phone distraction at bay, the increased dependence on screens has been an alarming phase for your life, maybe more than you care to admit. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we even stated that this has become a complete addiction.

Considering this addiction, we will be treading with caution. Our approach to its solution will be aligned with the 5 stages of addiction treatment.

Let’s get started with this support group therapy, shall we?

Stage 1. Pre-Contemplation

This is all about denial—a denial that you can’t move your screen away from your eyes, denial that you may have Nomophobia or “no mobile phone” phobia. We completely understand that. But with this stage, it is all about making you realize how strong the addiction is (maybe stronger than Biohazard’s 928mg of caffeine)!

While you might have already internalized the damage, here’s offering some help with your addiction. We would be providing you a holistic idea about the consistent pandemic called mobile distractions and guide you around with hacks to tackle the addiction.

That said, it’s time to dive into the details!

Stage 2: Contemplation – A Peek at Cell Phone Distraction

Look around you. Apart from the N-95 masks and frenzied use of sanitizers, what do you see in common? “Expressions projected at the screen held in front of the eyes.”

It will probably be safe to say that smartphones have become quite the companion, so much that the real companion is often ignored for the virtual ones. You must have come across many memes based on this topic.

Additionally, the terrifying statistics on your cell phone addiction are not going exactly subtle on the massacre that this distraction has become.

Here’s to give you some perspective with the numbers:

  • Average mobile phone users click, tap, and swipe their mobile phones 2,617 times a day.[1]
  • Worldwide phone users have crossed the threshold of 3 billion and are predicted to have exponential growth of several hundred million in the coming years.[2]
  • 61.20% of the globe’s population own smartphones as of September 2020.[3]

While the latter two statistics prove the rising reliance on phones, the first number is indicative of the twiddling-thumb syndrome following the addiction.

Considering your widened eyes over the numbers, we can safely assume that you have moved on to stage 2: contemplation. This stage will let you see the change that you need to undergo to ensure a screen-free healthier lifestyle.

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While we acknowledge the crucial role that screens play for some activities, we believe you can easily do away with some of these engagements, reducing the time consumed to a bare minimum.

Think of the physiological, psychological, and sociological impact. With so much at stake and the distraction breaching all ages, it is time to start on with some hacks to break up this cell phone distraction.

Stage 3 & Stage 4: How to Break Up the Distraction

Let’s not get obvious here. We won’t tell you about the:

  • reduced attention span,
  • potential loneliness,
  • mitigating eye-health, etc.

That’s something that parents all over the globe have been putting out on banners. As a result, these facts are much likely to be considered ‘preaching.’

We, on the other hand, have a greater concern—your cell phones, most likely, are gnawing away your me-time and hence, your creative potentials. That is something that should never be compromised. Thus, it’s time you follow up on the hacks from the pros that have been proven to be effective across all ages.

Here let me fire away the life-altering, screen-shattering hacks that pose as Stage 3 Preparation and Stage 4 Action to cure your addiction:

1. Lean on an App to Track Your Daily Usage of Cell Phones

It would be safe to say that you have some tiny “time thieves” lurking in your mobile phones, crunching and munching away your precious hours. For the hacks, we start with the most convenient one—installing phone usage tracker apps.

Here is a list of the best ones for both the Android and the iOS platforms in 2020.

  • QualityTime – My Digital Diet
  • YourHour – Phone Addiction Tracker and Controller
  • Stay Focused – App Block (Control Phone Addiction)
  • Social Fever App Usage Tracker
  • PhoneUsage Tracker

With either of these apps playing the ‘personal trainer’ or referee, your hours spent on social media platforms and your phone, as a whole, are tracked down. While you check the hours for the first time, beware: the numbers may not be for the weak hearts!

2. Re-Subscribe to Your Hobbies

The price that you pay for your cell phone distraction is your growing distance from your hobbies. While you kill time with your screen-related engagements, you lose the roots of your hobbies.

So, make sure to do the following steps:

  1. List down your hobbies.
  2. Put it up on your headboard or sticky notes.
  3. Start slow on your hobbies.
  4. Set realistic goals, dividing the time spent on your phones and your hobby.

Once you rekindle your old, highschool-sweetheart of love, the attachment with the screen will eventually wither away.

3. Take a Vow of Silence From Social Media Platforms

When was the last time you ate without taking a click or went out with your friends without hashtagging the pic on Instagram? How often do you giggle while scrolling down Facebook feeds or go ‘aww’ at the cute kitty and doggo videos?

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We are guessing, a lot!

The numbers confirm our opinion. As per the World Economic Forum, Millennials spent approximately 2 hours 38 minutes and Gen Z 2 hours 55 minutes daily on social media platforms.[4]

Additionally, if you thought Covid-19 changed Ecommerce only, you are mistaken.[5] The recent pandemic state and its lockdown and social distancing have unfortunately brought you closer to your screens.

The landscape looks something like this:

    So, here is the most challenging hack of all—go nuclear on your social media apps. Before you go AWOL on us after listening to this, hear us out!

    The potential impact of social media platforms goes even beyond the mere time spent on it. You tend to take more interest in others’ lives, ending up comparing that with yours. And this, our ‘friends, Romans, and countrymen,’ has innumerable adversities.

    Remember, even if you delete the apps, you still have your accounts there. Also, if deleting it seems too much of an anxiety trigger, follow up with the time spent (using the apps on Hack 101) and put a realistic cap to it.

    4. Get Your Silent/Do Not Disturb Mode Working Occasionally

    For this hack, acknowledge first the fact that introspection or “me” time is incomparable. The diverse ringtones and tunes emerging from your cell phone are baits that will draw out hours from your life.

    While putting your phone on silent during meals or work meetings is a matter of manners, doing the same at other times means you are just prioritizing yourself. This will help you go back to your old habits and stay away from technological labyrinths.

    5. Set a Realistic To-Do List for the Day Sans Any Screen-Involvement

    How often do we treat ourselves for a great performance at work? Maybe a pizza or a bowl of ice cream? Why don’t you do the same for your cell phone distraction?

    What you need to do is:

    1. Sit down with a daily bucket list before sleeping off at night.
    2. Make sure that the list of activities involves minimum screen time.
    3. Accomplish the listed jobs and then reward yourself with some social media scrolling.

    So, do we have a deal? Get started, ASAP!

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    6. Where Have Your Books/Magazines Gone?

    Ask around, and your last generation will tell you the attraction of the tangible books—the tranquility involved in flipping the pages while your palm hugs a cup of your warm caffeine.

    With Kindles, Ipads, and tablets, that charm is long lost. However, for those looking and determined to dig away from this distraction, we suggest you try this reconnection. Reading, not on screens, but with the physical and tangible books will help you feel grounded and rekindle yet another hobby that will be responsible for your personal growth.

    So, dust the cobwebs off your bookshelf, and get your mind its treat of imagination!

    7. Go Serial Killer on Your Notifications

    Don’t get us wrong! We are not asking you to go all ‘Ted Bundy’ on your notifications but also, can you do that, please? Hear us out before freaking out completely.

    All of your sneaky apps frequently give out tiny beckonings via notifications, reminding you of their existence.

    While being notified is appreciated occasionally, it can surmount to considerable distraction if the phone goes off every 5 minutes.

    The best way out? Turn off notifications, even if for a couple of hours. You will then have the power not to be distracted from your contemporary activity and enjoy scanning through notifications at your preferred time.

    8. Get the Screen Glares Away an Hour Before Sleep

    What’s the best excuse that you put on for keeping your cell phone on your nightstand?

    Let me guess. Alarm?

    Quit the excuse queue, your alarm clock can serve the purpose well! Additionally, you won’t have the ‘convenient access’ to your screen right before you sleep.

    Seems harsh? Follow through and you will experience a sudden and considerable improvement in your daily schedule. Without your phone in an arm’s reach from your bed, you also won’t start your day by scrolling social media feeds.

    9. Go for a Black and White Mode

    OLED or Organic Light-Emitting Diode is the latest call of the display technology in cell phones. With promises of better black themes and incredible pixel-views, the color contrast in this display is too attractive.

    However, it is this color-coding that fetches and attaches you for a longer time on your cell phones. For those seeking to get rid of your cell phone distraction, your best way forward is by opting for grayscale. This makes the screen much less desirable to look at.

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    As of recent, multiple phones come with ‘bedtime mode’ that switches off the phone to grayscale mode. With the color drained from your phone, the social media platforms become immediately unattractive. In case you are seeking a reference, think of the memory Dump ground in Pixar’s Inside Out.

    10. Be Ready for the Withdrawal Symptoms

    Much like any addiction, acting on the cell phone distraction also brings in withdrawal symptoms (read up Nomophobia or “no mobile phone” phobia). While planning to leave your phone at home might seem a brave move, agitations, distractions, stressing out, and getting upset are surefire consequences.

    Considering that cell phones have become the representative for connectivity, staying away from them is a huge stress. Researchers have also gone their distance to say that compulsive cell phone behavior is a resultant of the Pavlovian conditioning system.

    The tune of cell phone notifications somehow sends a signal that some great news is on its way, and you are compelled to check your phone, considering that the notification meets up to your expectation leading to a release of dopamine into your system. With that dopamine release around, your anxiety is sure to kick in. So, prepare yourself for that!

    11. Pro Hack: Embrace Your Smart Speakers

    Do you know that grey pretty piece of technology greeting you with the weather update? Your Alexa/ Siri/Cortana/Google at play via smart speakers? They can be quite the acquaintance when you are trying to get rid of your cell phone distraction.

    Considering that you need the support of your phones to carry out daily activities, you can always rely on screen-less technology. This will help keep the smartphone away from your hands for a prolonged period.

    The Final Stage

    Nearing the end of your addiction recovery, the last stage matters the most.

    This 5th and final stage is all about maintenance or recovery. Don’t let your cellular bridles go loose thinking that you are over your cell phone distraction.

    You can always rely on the ‘hair band technique’ to keep the scrolling thumbs away. Maybe, you will be reminded that those opposable thumbs of yours can do much better—the guides of which you can find in the diverse blogs posted on the site or our social media sites.

    What say, you game?

    More Tips to Avoid Cell Phone Distraction

    Featured photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo via unsplash.com

    Reference

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