It's really hard to approach a mind numbingly boring task with enthusiasm, but there are ways to better tackle tasks you hate. And there are so many peppered through out the day: Whether it's tidying up your bedroom after a month of neglect, having to get into budget sheets, or doing something extra annoying or menial for work, there are plenty of tasks out there that we'd rather not be doing. But sometimes there is no way around them, and so they need our attention and focus, no matter how hard it makes you want to grind your teeth.
But what if there was a way to make these tasks suck just a little bit less? While they could still be plenty annoying when they pop up on your to-do list, you can alleviate the pain a little bit by restructuring how you approach it. Whether if it's sandwiching it between tasks you love, pushing yourself to ace it as a skill, or putting a timer on it and not letting yourself linger over it, there are plenty of ways to side-step the suffering that has long been attached to it. And here's exactly how: Here are 11 tips on how to better handle tasks you hate.
1. Focus All Of Your Energy On It
It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you try to get something over with as quickly as possible, it sometimes becomes impossible to start. So instead, make a deal with yourself that you'll give it all of your attention ntil it's done, and then you can move on. Lifestyle writer Scott Young from self-development site Pick the Brain explained, "Normally, the first reaction to unenjoyable tasks is to “get it over with”. Finishing as quickly as possible so you can move on to something better. However, with this attitude, it is a lot easier to never get started at all, and procrastinate forever." So do the opposite, and cut down on the dread.
2. Sandwich It Between Tasks You Love
If you hate, say, filing, sandwich the eye-twitching task between two other things you love doing, like marketing planning on lunch getting. Productivity strategist Mike Vardy at self development site Productivityist said, "This allows me to focus on at least two of the tasks I’m loathe to work on and I counter-balance them with two tasks I enjoy working on." That way you feel the pain a whole lot less.
3. Do It Right Away In The Morning
Just bite the bullet and get the thing you hate over with right away. Gretchen Rubin, habit expert and writer of New York Times bestseller, Better than Before, explained the reasoning, "If you’re dreading doing something, you’re going to be able to think of more creative excuses as the day goes along." Which you have to admit, this is a very valid point.
4. See It As Something You Can Ace
Sure, expense reports are boring as hell and cold calling a list is nothing but agony, but instead of grumbling about the task, why don't you turn it into a skill you can master? Young offered, "See your boring activity as a previously unrecognized art form you can master. When you give an activity more depth, the interest level goes way up." You can make your professional speak witty and persuasive, or become a master at Excel. It's worth a shot!
5. Make The Most Of The Time It Takes Up
If it's a task that doesn't require a lot of concentration, try double-booking the time you use for it. Career coach Barrie Davenport recommended, "If you have tasks that involve driving, sitting around for a while, or mindless repetition, take advantage of this time to do something else meaningful, educational or fun." Try downloading a podcast, read a book, watch a TED Talk — it's up to you!
6. Break It Up
Rather than being overwhelmed with how long your terrible task will take, try breaking it into smaller chunks you can take your time finishing. Business blog Swingline advised, "If it’s a big project, it can look overwhelming at first, a towering mountain of this-really-stinks. Sit down and pull it apart. Break it down into manageable segments." For example, say the task is cleaning your room. Just organize one section at a time for a couple of days until it's finished — which is way less painful than doing it all evening long.
7. Give Yourself Treats
Bribery always works, so promise yourself a treat once you finish up the to-do. Swingline offered, "Do not hesitate to define clearly in your mind the plum that will be yours when you finish. Maybe it’s a dinner out, or two tickets to a hockey game, or a new pair of shoes." And if it's a smaller task like "taking out the trash," reward yourself with something smaller like a cookie or a fancy tea.
8. Schedule It On Your Calendar
Rather than putting it on your to-do list, try putting it on your calendar instead because it would hold more weight. Vardy advised, "it stands out on my calendar as an agreement I’ve made with myself. It acts as a trigger in that regard, and by completing this task at a scheduled time and date it not only gives it a better shot of getting done consistently but eventually can remove the negative feelings toward the task." When you have a list cluttered with to-dos, it can be easy to decide to push it to another day. But when it's on your calendar? It's got less of a chance to be shuffled.
9. Time It
If you have something that doesn't take a lot of thought, set a timer and see if you can finish it before the buzzer. Davenport explained, "Knowing that you have a specific window of time to complete the task, you will be challenged to stay focused and work faster." It's a win, win.
10. Have A Pal With You
If your task allows for a plus one to be hanging out with you, try and invite a friend over to keep you company while you do the blasted thing. It'll make it so much more enjoyable. Rubin recommended, "Studies show that we enjoy practically every activity more when we’re with other people. Having a friend along can be a distraction, a source of reassurance, or just moral support." Honestly, when have you had a bad time when your best friend was right there with you?
11. Just Take Them Off Of The List
If you really hate the task, ask yourself if it's even necessary to do. Does it help a lot in the grand scheme of things, or is it just a mindless to-do you've fallen into the habit of completing? Davenport explained, "There are always tasks that really don’t have to be done. The world will not end if you don’t accomplish these things, so let them go. It feels freeing." And if you can't let it go, try maybe cutting back on it. The sky won't fall down if you do, after all.
If you keep these tips in mind, the next time you dive into your to-do list, the whole thing could be a whole lot more enjoyable!