Boredom Getting In The Way Of You Making A Breakthrough?
I often have bouts where I feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again such as giving the same talk, revising a landing page, debugging an issue, or just performing a necessary routine of tasks daily.
When the results are the same, the breakthroughs seem unlikely, and I’ve used up my reserves of patience, boredom kicks in and it just feels like the work I do is drudgery.
I know I’m not the only one…
Jason Cohen recently wrote, Invention is Drudgery. It might feel like we’re the only ones who go through it, and as a result, we’re tempted to quit. The truth is everyone goes through drudgery. The reason we don’t realize that everyone goes through it is because we “skipped to the last page of other people’s book”.
Ultimately, what separates those who experience the breakthrough moments versus those who give up early is by learning how to embrace the drudgery and manage it.
It’s easy to give up when you’re alone, because after all who is going to know?! But that’s when it’s time to enlist help from others. Even just the act of talking through the problem with someone else can often trigger a solution.
I can’t tell you the countless number of times I’ve figured out a solution to a tough coding bug the moment after I explained the problem to someone.
Help comes in many forms, it can be help from teammates, mentors, and my personal favorite: beginner’s who haven’t been bogged down by the problem and can offer a unique perspective.
Look at it through a fresh pair of eyes.
This is often hard to do once you’ve banged your head against the wall for hours, weeks, or months. So they key is to step away and take a REAL break.
Sometimes it’s a short break. My personal favorites are going for a run or hitting the yoga mat. If it’s a longer-term problem then a couple days away or a real vacation helps revive my brain.
Engage in another activity outside of the field your problem is in.
This is known as combinatory play, and Einstein was a keen practitioner of it.
If you have the urge to be productive, have an active mind, and can’t get yourself to take a break, then pursue an activity that is going to engage your brain.
My personal favorite is studying a foreign language because it stimulates a different part of my brain, unlike technical or business work.
Gamify the boring tasks.
Sometimes you just have to get through the drudgery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun!
For rote tasks, I gamify doing them, by seeing how quickly I can get them done by imposing a speed test on myself. This also prevents me from wasting time and becoming even more bored.
I know some people like to give themselves rewards after performing the tasks but only once they’ve hit a streak. For example, authors who write 1000 words a day over the course of one week or one month will treat themselves to a massage or present.
Still others enlist their friends who they know are in a similar state of drudgery and wager a friendly competition.
The key to gamifying is to figure out what you’re motivated by. Is it rewards, entertainment, or just a little friendly competition?
We all want to achieve breakthroughs, but we just don’t know when those will happen. Sadly or brain tires out and tempts us to quit. But if we really want to achieve breakthroughs, we have to learn how to motivate and embrace the drudgery.
Now I want to know, how do you break through the boredom, and when you did was a breakthrough you experienced?
Let me know in the comments!
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