Back in kindergarten or elementary school, you may have sung a song called “Mumble Grumble.” It probably seemed silly at the time, but it’s actually pretty profound. The lyrics go, “Mumble grumble, this is no fun / you don’t have to like it but it’s got to be done.” In a way, it gets kids ready for the working world, where you often must take on boring tasks that make you want to step out of the office and never come back. Fortunately, there are things we can do to stop the mumbling and grumbling. In a great Daily Muse post titled “How to Make Boring Tasks Suck Less,” Lily Herman — founder of the lifestyle website The Prospect — offers three tips for making the best of a bad situation. Read on to see what she suggests.
1. Trade “Have” for “Choose” — While it might not seem like it, everything we do is a choice. Instead of saying, “I have to take this meeting/make this phone call/send this email,” begin your sentence with, “I choose to…” As Herman writes, piggybacking on advice from best-selling author Greg McKeown, you should always remember that “technically you’ve made the decision to take that job and be a good employee.” On some level, you’re photocopying stacks of paper (or whatever) for your boss because you choose to. If you find yourself always doing things you can’t stand, Herman says, it might be time to look for a new job.
2. Focus on What You’ll Learn — Every job teaches you something. Say, for instance, you have to write up a super dry sales report. Doing so will require you communicate clearly and effectively and crunch a few numbers. Heck, rearranging the stock room might teach you about spatial management. Before you take on some crummy task, tell yourself, “This will help me learn/do…”
3. Find Importance In Your Job — Not every job is world-saving, and replying to an email from an angry client, to use an example Herman gives, isn’t going to make the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. That said, it is important, and it’s part of the “deeper mission” of what you’re trying to accomplish. Take it back to square one and ask, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”