Dealing with boring assignments

Let’s face it, not every assignment or task we have to complete will be our dream task. Actually a lot of them might give us a sinking feeling in the stomach and make us feel demotivated.

But here is the trick… this is just a sign that we fell into a trap. The trap of expecting our assignment to motivate us. It is a sign that we gave away our power to that assignment over our own emotional state. We forgot that the power and responsibility to manage our motivation is only ours.

I know what you are thinking: that sounds like a nice theory… but that assignment IS REALLY boring. And you can’t help it but feel bad about it…

And actually, you are kinda right. Because as long as you are focusing on the assignment itself… you will remain stuck. The trick is not to focus on the assignment directly but to focus on yourself. Ask yourself what does motivate you and integrate it in the assignment.

For this, you first need to spend some time to define your priorities and what makes you tick. And then, see your assignment through that new filter.

For example, if one of your priorities is Efficiency, you could challenge yourself to perform your assignment faster or better than before. If your focus is on People, you can focus on creating a stronger connection with the person you are intereacting with. If you focus on Growth, make the taks more challenging.

Focus on the aspects of your assignment that are aligned with your personal priorities and you will start to see it under a new light. And as you connect it with what makes you move and grow, you will be able to access your motivation. Your assignment won’t seem so pointless anymore, it will become a stepping stone leading you into a more fullfilling direction.

 

But there is even better news :-)

While this method gives good results for every individual assignment, the best part of it, is the long term effect. Your work will slowly change to align itself with your interests.

For example, one of my personal values is “Understanding” and when I was working as a Helpdesk advisor, I started to consistently focus on the most complex cases my team had to handle. Very soon, this fact was noticed and all most complex cases were assigned to me. I couldn’t be happier. When my teammates who were more focused on “Efficiency” would handle 10 straightforward cases, I would focus on and resolve 2 or 3 very complex ones that were slowing the team down. We had found an equilibrium everybody was happy with.

On the even longer term, this specialisation resulted in me acquiring more and more technical knowledge and moving to a training position I was delighted with.

The change didn’t come overnight but was the result of consistently focusing on how I could align my priorities with my assignments.

As Aristotle says:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Of course , you can also choose another method of dealing with unpleasant assignments: you can perform them half-heartedly and complain about it to your colleague. It is actually easier in the moment, but definitely doesn’t give you the same long term results 😉

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