But that’s boring!
You just spent the last three days re-figuring out how to coordinate the yearly all-hands conference. You had to get the correct invitations out across all localities, with the correct speakers in the correct slots, different people attending the right meetings for them, people matched to relevant table topics for the opening luncheon… It’s complex and complicated.
You know you have done this before, too long ago to remember all the detail.
If you are honest with yourself, you know you will have to figure it all out again next time, or even worse: someone else needs to figure it out from scratch. You know the right thing to do would be to document the steps. But, really? That’s just so boring. And besides, it’s time to get on with other things you’ve been ignoring for these three days.
What tasks do you avoid because you find them boring?
- Tracking your hours or the spending towards budgets.
- Submitting receipts and expenses.
- Creating follow up reports for meetings.
- Planning a meeting properly: creating an agenda, thinking through who needs to be there or not, getting the right people in the room.
- Updating stakeholders.
- Documenting tasks that are seldom done.
These things take time and for many of us, they are not fun, interesting or motivating.
How do we get ourselves to do the things we know are right but are just not fun?
First, you need to understand different motivators. Most of us are driven by our emotional motivators – the promise of dopamine for doing something interesting, novel, exciting or even challenging. A little “good stress” and adrenaline of needing to meet a deadline.
But to do those mundane tasks? There isn’t a promise of much dopamine – other than perhaps a bit of relief as we check that off our list. There probably isn’t much fear or stress involved either: you could possibly get away with not doing it, so the repercussions are low.
Nope, it’s not about exciting motivators. It’s simply about discipline. It’s your rational prefrontal cortex (PFC) that is going to get you to do these things. It’s not about the pleasure of it all – it’s about the rightness of it and choosing to do so. Using the PFC takes a lot of energy and focus, which is one reason we avoid these things. But if we choose to, we CAN tap into this part of the brain and get these mundane things done. And if we do it often enough, they will become habits and much less effortful.
- Do these tasks when you are fresh; when your brain is topped up.
- Do a bit at a time.
- Tell yourself, “let’s just get this done”
- Focus until it’s done; don’t slot it alongside two other things you are multi-tasking through.
- If you are on a roll with it, try doing another little bit, then rejoice in the satisfaction of getting that bit further than you had initially planned.
- Give yourself some kind of treat when finished – even something simple like a walk outside or a nice cup of tea.
For more understanding on the dynamics of the emotional driven brain and the PFC as well as how to keep your PFC topped up and available for mundane tasks – and other more exciting ones too – check out Rewired to Relate. Our next programme begins soon.Chasing dopamineSharpening your tools