Research: How to Power Through Boring Tasks - Deepstash
Research: How to Power Through Boring Tasks

Research: How to Power Through Boring Tasks

Curated from: hbr.org

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Boring Tasks Are Inevitable: The Key Takeaways

Boring Tasks Are Inevitable: The Key Takeaways

There’s no escaping boring tasks. While we all do our best to fill our personal and professional lives with engaging activities, there are countless menial, yet critical tasks that keep our organizations running.

Pairing boring work with a secondary task that requires more attention can be an effective strategy to boost engagement and thus persistence. This insight can help individuals, managers looking to help their teams stay on track, organizations looking to encourage healthy practices, and product designers looking to improve customer retention.

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Tangential Immersion Decreases Boredom and Increases Persistence

Tangential Immersion Decreases Boredom and Increases Persistence

  • People can really only pay attention to so much at one time.
  • Tangential immersion, when there are two tasks of differing cognitive loads to be done, seems to increase persistence while decreasing boredom.
  • Tangential immersion only increases persistence if the two tasks together occupy most of - but not more than - one's total attentional capacity.

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Putting Tangential Immersion to Work

Putting Tangential Immersion to Work

So how can individuals, managers, and organizations start leveraging the power of tangential immersion? Many people already demonstrate an intuitive understanding of this effect in their personal lives — for instance, listening to immersive music or podcasts while at the gym is a great example of real-world tangential immersion.

But there are also a lot of workplace situations in which both employees and their managers might benefit from this approach.

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The Office Use Case

The Office Use Case

When it comes to menial office tasks, many employees use monitoring tools such as work timers to increase their persistence. In other cases, managers might rely on incentives such as extra time off or bonuses to motivate their employees. And to be sure, strategies like these certainly have a place.

For tasks that don’t require much attention, tangential immersion may be more effective. That could mean encouraging workers to listen to an audiobook while filing paperwork, watch a video while cleaning their desks, or read a news article while stuffing envelopes.

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The Bottom Line

There’s no escaping boring tasks. Of course, we should all do what we can to fill our jobs and lives with engaging activities — but given the prevalence and importance of low-attention work in our personal and professional lives (and the lives of our employees and customers), we all stand to benefit from finding ways to persist in these behaviors.

Tangential immersion offers a simple yet effective strategy that can empower anyone to stick with the work they know they should be doing, boosting personal productivity, organizational success, and well-being on a societal level.

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IDEAS CURATED BY

jennifrobert

Equities trader

CURATOR'S NOTE

While doing a boring task, pair it with something interesting.

Jennifer Robertson's ideas are part of this journey:

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