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Bored with Your Job? The Recipe for Enjoying Your Work | Scott H Young

Make Frustrating Tasks Easier

Work tasks are rarely chosen by you, so they rarely have optimal difficulty. To make them more likely to produce flow:

  1. Slow down on your work and let go of the expectations you have related to your tasks.
  2. Complex tasks can seem very overwhelming and frustrating. So break them up into more manageable sub-tasks.
  3. Lower your standards temporarily to get the faucet running. Perfectionism will not help you in this case.

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Bored with Your Job? The Recipe for Enjoying Your Work | Scott H Young

Bored with Your Job? The Recipe for Enjoying Your Work | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/02/20/bored-work-flow/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

The State of Flow

Being in flow means focusing your complete attention on the task in front of you. It is an underrated aspect of our happiness at work.
Flow requires simplicity: if a task is too hard, it will become frustrating too easy and you'll be bored.

Make Frustrating Tasks Easier

Work tasks are rarely chosen by you, so they rarely have optimal difficulty. To make them more likely to produce flow:

  1. Slow down on your work and let go of the expectations you have related to your tasks.
  2. Complex tasks can seem very overwhelming and frustrating. So break them up into more manageable sub-tasks.
  3. Lower your standards temporarily to get the faucet running. Perfectionism will not help you in this case.

Make Boring Tasks More Interesting

You tend to start daydreaming spontaneously when you don’t have something harder to do. To make boring tasks more engaging:

  1. Up your game. Even a slight increase in standards is often enough to make your focus sharper.
  2. Measure your performance, keep track of it as you go and make the stakes higher for whatever you’re doing.
  3. Do it differently. If you change up your explicit strategy, removing the ability to do it by rote, you can increase engagement.

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Flow is the state of mind

... where we are so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity that we lose sense of space and time.

It is thought to be t...

Why it’s hard to achieve flow in your workplace
  • The processes, policies, and busy work gets in the way.
  • Most jobs don’t have a clear goal.
  • Feedback can be inadequate.
  • The pace of work has increased, and it’s hard for people to spend time thinking deeply.
  • Your skills aren’t well matched to the challenges you are allowed to pursue.
  • There’s a lack of control over interruptions or when and how you work.
  • The job doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone.
Take more risks

... to push your mind beyond its comfort zone. Flow happens when we get a bit out of our comfort zone. Too much, and you get anxious; Too little and you get bored.

You need to know your physical or emotional limitations and consciously push past them.

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Ways to improve your life
Ways to improve your life

There are a few different ways you can go about setting a goal or creating a new habit.

  • Target the minimum output. You focus on always doing at least a little bit so t...
When to Focus on the Minimum

Minimum targeting works well for establishing long-term habits.

A goal of, for instance, doing fifty push-ups every day might not be ideal for fitness, but doing something is better than doing nothing.

Another reason to focus on the minimum is that it assumes the difficulty is in starting. To start a process can often be the hardest. Then you want to set a lower threshold to make starting as easy as possible.

When to Target the Average

Focusing on the average makes sense when you're hoping to sustain something, even if it is not always a perfectly easy and consistent output.

It works when you are already putting in a bit of effort, but want to improve that effort over the long-term.

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Why you procrastinate

Procrastination is fundamentally an emotional reaction to what you have to do. The more aversive a task is to you, the more you’ll resist it, and the more likely you are to procrastinate.

Make a task less aversive

When you notice yourself procrastinating, use your procrastination as a trigger to examine a task’s characteristics and think about what you should change.

By breaking down exactly which attributes an aversive task has (boring, frustrating, difficult, meaningless, ambiguous, unstructured), you can take those qualities and turn them around to make the task more appealing to you.

Unproductive responses

... people have when they procrastinate:

  • Distracting yourself, and thinking about other things
  • Forgetting what you have to do, either actively or passively
  • Downplaying the importance of what you have to do
  • Focusing on your other values and qualities that will solidify your sense of self
  • Denying responsibility to distance yourself from what you have to do
  • Seeking out new information that supports your procrastination.

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