At times, whether at home or work, we all have to do things that we don’t like doing. In order to live productively and get on professionally, we need to accomplish things that don’t seem like much fun.
But there are ways of turning dull, boring or demanding chores into tasks we’re much keener to do. Any task can be less tedious if we do it in a way which suits our own personality and preferences.
Whether we love or hate something is not down to the task itself — it’s down to our perception of it. That’s why some people really love accounting, while others can’t stand it; it’s why some people hate driving, while, for others, it’s a passion.
When people enjoy a certain task, it tends to be because they experience it in a particular way. They either find it easy, get personal satisfaction from doing it, attribute greater meaning to the task than others might, or carry it out with a sense of playfulness or fun.
Here are some tips for making the task you dread into one that is naturally more motivating for you.
Make it Enjoyable
Instead of giving yourself pep talks, and encouraging yourself to do something you hate, why not change the task to make it more enjoyable. If you hate a chore less, you’ll be more motivated to do it.
For example, some people hate shopping. They see shopping as a massive chore that needs to be done quickly, efficiently, and generally got out of the way. Often shopping-haters will go alone, rush through the process, and head home grumbling about the crowds.
People who enjoy shopping do it entirely differently. They make it into a social occasion, hook up with friends and spend a whole day picking items, talking to retail assistants, and stopping for coffee, snacks, lunch and chats in-between. The whole experience is about pampering and socializing. If shopping-haters did their shopping like that, they’d probably enjoy it too.
So, how could you arrange a task so that you enjoy it more? There are often many different ways of achieving the same thing. For example, if you’re trying to make sales for your business, but hate cold calling, why not go to a networking event or industry conferences instead, where you can talk face-to-face and pass out your card? If you hate studying, but need to learn, you could get a study buddy to make it more fun.
Give it Meaning
You can turn any task that repels you into one which compels you by looking at what it means in the grand scheme of things, or seeing what it gives you personally.
People who love doing their taxes may enjoy it because they remember that it means they’re in charge of their finances. They connect it with a sense of freedom and being in control, rather than just seeing it as working with numbers.
People who enjoy cooking may view it as a form of creativity, or a way of taking care of their family, rather than seeing it as a time-consuming hassle. Washing the car can remind you of how hard you’ve worked to earn a vehicle, and how proud you are of that, rather than being about cleaning.
Other people feel great satisfaction by focusing on what doing the task will do for them when it’s over. For example, cleaning the house gives you a nice, fresh environment for your family. Doing the business accounts may allow you to make the next exciting plans for your firm.
Even if you don’t really like the process, you can enjoy what doing a task means about you, as well. Connect with the parts of the task that give you personal satisfaction. Whether it’s pride at being able to finish such a challenging task, gratitude that you have all the skills necessary to do it, or simply being able to say you’ve worked really hard and done your best.
Make it Easier
When tasks are much too challenging, we find it hard to enjoy them. If you find that you don’t get satisfaction from completing a task, but are merely relieved to get it done, maybe you need to build up resources so that you struggle with it less.
Look at what you could learn or improve, so that it is easier for you to complete a certain chore. For example, if you hate making sales calls, maybe it’s time to learn a new method which is more effective or suits you better. If you struggle with doing the garden, might a set of new tools make it more manageable?
Sometimes we’re put off tasks because they seem too long-winded. Setting tasks up in a special way can make them less laborious. For example, if you hate writing letters, you could put together some templates that you can use again and again.
If organizing cupboards or files takes too long, you could systematize the process, so that it is easier to manage. Arranging items by category, or alphabetically, means that you can find things more easily and get tasks done more quickly.
Make it Playful
If you’ve ever watched a child with a cardboard box, you’ll know that kids can make anything interesting. Children have a vivid imagination and a great sense of playfulness that helps prevent them being bored.
Adults have this sense of playfulness, too, but often its buried under seriousness, responsibilities and self-consciousness. Actually letting your playful nature come out can make a dull task into an exciting adventure.
Next time you have to mow the lawn, why not think of the mower as a big monster devouring the grass. Or if you have to buy groceries, imagine you’re steering a racing car rather than pushing a shopping cart. If you have a boring business meeting, imagine all your colleagues with funny hats on, or consider what they might have been like as children.
It sounds silly, but scientific studies show that adults who allow themselves to be playful suffer less from depression, are physically healthier and are more satisfied with life overall.