Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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).

Advertising

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.

How to Commit, Achieve Excellence And Change Your Life Smart Hacks To Keep You Productive While Using Facebook Get more Curious How we kill our innate curiosity (and how to stop doing that) Learn how to battle sleepless nights How to Battle Sleepless Nights 3 Habits To Help You Beat Life’s Supermarket Line

Trending in Productivity

1 How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology) 2 How to Change Habits When You Feel Stuck in a Rut 3 Need Journal Inspiration? 15 Journal Ideas to Kickstart 4 How to Stay Consistent and Realize Your Dreams 5 How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Advertising

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Advertising

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

Advertising

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

Advertising

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next