A job well done – and that inevitably includes routine tasks – can mean opportunity for growth in the long term says Maria Henze

Motivation, or having the enthusiasm and eagerness to do something, is key to delivering sustained, quality work. Feeling enthusiastic and eager about your work is crucial to be able to contribute in the best possible way to the common goals of an organisation. Contributing effectively and efficiently to those goals gives you a sense of self-worth. A sense of self-worth, in turn, helps to motivate you to deliver. This is a benign circle I recommend everyone build into their working life.

It is easy to feel motivated when you have interesting, challenging and varied work. But how do you find motivation in a job where you need to do a number of routine tasks, which can feel repetitive and dull? How do you stay positive and summon enthusiasm, when routine work requires you to be reactive and responsive, rather than proactive and creative?

The good news is that attitude and behaviour play big parts in how much we enjoy the things we do, and we have full control over our own attitudes and behaviours. If you generally approach your work with enthusiasm and energy, then you are doing the right thing. If, on the other hand, you have a more negative attitude to your work, there are several ways to change how you feel about it, to make it not only bearable, but enjoyable:

  • Smile as you work, to dispel negative emotions. Smiling is a powerful tool, which will lift your own mood and the moods of those around you.
  • If appropriate, play your favourite songs in the background to create a happy mood in the workplace.
  • Work alongside someone else for a bit of company, if it works with the task you are doing. A bit of chatting, or just having another presence in the office, can make boring work much more fun.
  • Work mindfully. Even if you can do your work “in your sleep”, approach each task with focus and purpose, to give it importance and meaning.
  • Concentrate on what you are contributing and visualise the end result, and the feeling of satisfaction you will have once the job has been completed.
  • Reward yourself at intervals. Set small milestones and reward yourself when you reach them. You could reward yourself with delving into more interesting work, or simply with going for a coffee with a colleague.
  • Take pride in all aspects of the job you do, even the routine tasks. Routine tasks might not require you to be innovative or even to think very hard, but they are often fundamental to the smooth running of a well-functioning office. If routine tasks are not done well and in a timely manner, it can cause disruption to other, more important work, leading to confusion or irritation among colleagues.
  • See the advantages of doing some routine tasks. You will become an expert at doing them, leaving you more brain power to deal with more complex work.
  • Take regular breaks to interact with others. By speaking with your colleagues, you will break the monotony.
  • Be innovative and try changing the way the work is done, to be more effective as well as to alleviate boredom. Analyse routine tasks, look at ways of optimising the time and effort they require, and look at what aspects can be streamlined, delegated, outsourced or even removed altogether.
  • Ask a colleague to swap some tasks. This will relieve the boredom and you can learn something new in the process.
  • Divide up tasks and pick certain times to do certain things. Perhaps do routine tasks in the morning and make time for more interesting work in the afternoon, or work in short bursts, mixing boring work with more interesting work. Schedule the work to suit you, leaving the work that requires more brain power to those times of the day when you have more energy.
  • Do not procrastinate and waste time. The sooner you attack the work you find boring, the sooner you will finish it and have time to do more interesting work.

Remember that a job well done – and that inevitably includes routine jobs – can mean opportunity for growth in the long term. Make a long-term plan to progress, and, in the meantime, master that motivation mountain and give all the work you do your very best effort and attention.

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Maria Henze is an Executive Assistant, supporting the Executive Director of the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. After completing her secretarial education in London in 1987, Maria has worked her way from junior secretary to senior ... (Read More)

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