Schedule Happiness Right After Hustle
How to get through the boring stuff using the Self-reward Strategy.
I seriously hate auditing time reports. I really loathe fixing the printer. I am not a fan of filing or scanning paperwork and no part of ordering catering appeals to me. But I do all of these things. Why?
Because they are part of my job.
There are plenty of elements of my job that I not only enjoy but really find fascinating. For example, I love to read. Numbers are kind of my jam and I love to analyze them. I’m passionate about the critical thinking and strategic work that I do on a daily basis, I just don’t get to do it all day- and I’m betting you don’t either.
No person I’ve ever met, from CEOs to engineers to high school nurses, has ever told me that they like every aspect of their job. I truly believe that anyone who says otherwise is lying or delusional. The hope is that you spend the majority of your working hours doing something that you love but the reality is that you will spend some time every day doing something that you hate.
So, the question is not, how do I find a job I like 100% of the time.
The question is, how do I find a way to like 100% of the time I spend working.
And it turns out that answering the second part of that question is easy, it’s free, and you can start doing it right now.
It’s called the Self-Reward Strategy.
Here’s how it works:
- Step 1: Schedule Your Hustle.
Make sure that you place all of those tiny things you hate doing (like unloading the dishwasher, setting that meeting, and updating the office contact list) on your calendar.
- Step 2: Add Your Happiness
After each activity that you put on your calendar from step 1, schedule an activity that you love doing. The secret to the success of this system is that these activities don’t have to be work-related- in fact, some of them shouldn't be.
A ton of research conducted by hundreds of different organizations all point to the benefits of taking intermediate non-work related breaks. According to these studies, taking regular “rest breaks” reduces worker burnout, enhances creativity, and boosts productivity.
The key to making this Strategy work is in the scheduling 🗝
When you seriously organize your schedule, and you commit to sticking to your time frames, you will find that all of the boring activities that you didn’t want to do (like purchasing office supplies or sending the reminder expense report email to the team) become a lot faster to do because you follow them up with an activity you are excited about doing.
You can see in plain view (from your calendar) that if you save some time and get the boring things done really efficiently you can spend a few extra minutes doing the thing you really want to like checking your social media, reading about a new organizational strategy, or going for a walk to get coffee with a friend. All of these activities are perfectly acceptable to engage in intermittently throughout the day. As long as you’re getting your work done, take a break for some self-reflection or grab lunch with a colleague.
Your office is not meant to be a prison.
This should be obvious but I will state it- just for clarity. If you rush through the activities that you don’t want to do and cut corners along the way to get them done faster, you’re going to have to not only re-do them but also explain to someone (probably your boss) why you didn’t get the job done correctly the first time. This is not a fun conversation to have and re-doing the project takes as long as it took to do it the first time (maybe even longer if you have to undo some damage you caused)- so do these boring and annoying tasks efficiently, but do them correctly!