The work day isn't all made out of rainbows and butterflies; we know that. There are certain tasks on our to-do lists that we just dread, but that doesn't mean we have to put up with that suffering. Instead we can learn how to make a task we hate more bearable, even getting to the point where some of its sting completely disappears. While we might love our jobs or our workplaces, there will always be a task or two that will make you want to develop an eye twitch. You push it back on your to-do list, procrastinate around it, schedule it for another day, grab a cup of coffee instead of getting started — you have all the tricks on how to best avoid it.
But once you actually do start on it, it's nothing but a full hour of inward screaming and groans. But there are ways to make it a little less painful — and enjoyable, even. All it takes is a changed perspective and an understanding as to why you're doing what you're doing, and your attitude towards your to-do list might change. And if that doesn't work, bribery always helps, too. Below are seven ways to get motivation to do a task you hate — never experience a desk palm again!
1. Swap The Words "I Have To" To "I Choose To"
Just think about how you'd ask your mom "Do I haaave to?" when you were little, dreading and near tears over whatever monstrosity she was about to force you to do. The emotions linked with that are all eye-twitch worthy, so the first thing you need to do is reframe how you're approaching your task.
Instead of thinking "I have to do this," think "I choose to do this." You're owning the task, and in a way you're excited to jump into it because you know it'll better you or help you progress.
According to self-development writer Lily Herman at career-development site The Muse, "New York Times bestselling author Greg McKeown recommends changing that 'I have to' with an 'I choose to,' saying that it completely realigns how you prioritize." A change of perspective can do a lot.
2. Promise Yourself Something Lovely Right After
When you have something coming up you've been dreading all day, ease the pain by promising yourself a treat right after. Heck, that might even make you look forward to getting it done.
Melissa Cassera, lifestyle writer for lifestyle site More, offered, "Choose something fun to do right after the task is complete. If I tackle cleaning the bathroom, I allow myself a little time to read a magazine or buy myself fresh cut flowers. Knowing I have something fun to look forward to gets me motivated to check it off my list!" Schedule in little rewards after those to-do nightmares, and you won't be putting them off all day.
3. Give Yourself Breathers
Imagine knowing you have a full eight hours of writing ahead of you. Something like that could make you want to slide straight into your pajamas again and never get the day started. But what if you knew you had a break every 30 minutes to do whatever fun thing you wanted? That makes the whole thing just a little more bearable, doesn't it?
So do exactly that — download an app that will keep time for you and let you know when you can tap out to go eat a spoonful of Nutella or buy a coffee or whatever. Lifestyle writer Sarah Jacoby from Refinery 29 suggested, "Tools like Tomato Timer — which divides work into intervals of 25 minutes split by five-minute breathers — are perfect for this." Download and slay.
4. Break It Up Into Smaller Pieces
Pin-balling off of the last point, another thing you can do that doesn't rely on breaks is to divide the task into smaller pieces. Jessica Stillman, career writer at entrepreneur site Inc., suggested, "Can't swallow the whole horrible task at once? Maybe breaking it up into smaller pieces will help you choke it down and get it done." You can divide writing a paper into three different hours in the day, promise to tackle cleaning only half the room today and the other half tomorrow, or answer your emails only twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening. Breaking it up could lessen the pain.
5. Focus On How You're Growing Because Of That Task
Picking up around the house to make it look less Grey Garden-y or sitting down and creating a spreadsheet for work isn't what you'd call riveting stuff. But to make it more bearable, focus less on how much it's going to suck and more on what kind of life experience it's going to give you.
Herman explained, "So yes, writing up an investor report may be boring, but it does teach important skills, like how to communicate clearly, fact check, and organize an important document." Keeping your house tidy boosts your organization skills and teaches you to have pride in what you own, and sitting down to do that blasted spreadsheet helps you grow in your career. Keep those points in mind and you'll feel happier doing it knowing you're growing as a person.
6. Surround Yourself With Things That Will Make Your Heart Happy
About to tackle something you were putting off all week at work? Lessen the pain by surrounding yourself with things you love. The cheerful workspace will make the whole thing feel so much more pleasant.
Cassera recommended, "Make the task visually attractive. If I buy a new notebook or pen, I’m more apt to work on paperwork. If I buy new fresh-scented cleanser, I automatically want to clean. Try something new that will spark your interest to get your task done!" Grab your prettiest tea cup, buy yourself a new planner, take notes in a cute notebook — whatever you need.
7. Make It Easier To Get Started
It's sort of hard to get to work when your laptop is hiding underneath a stack of books, or your cleaning supplies are tucked away in the laundry room. If you need a kick to get started on that sucky task, make it easier to get started by laying out the materials you need ahead of time. According to Shawn Achor, this is your "activation energy," and you need to make it as small as possible.
Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, explained “Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.”
Do you need an essay to write, or have a load of emails to answer? The night prior, set up your laptop in the kitchen with your favorite coffee cup and a possible muffin, and you'll sit down the next day a whole lot faster.
We all need to do things we have zero motivation for, but with these tips you can make it all a bit more bearable.