The Benefits of Mundane Tasks
It doesn’t matter how far up the career ladder you are or what industry you work in, mundane tasks are a necessary evil. But they don’t have to be the bane of your working day. Here are a few suggestions on how these activities work to your advantage:
It will make you a better boss in the future
Good news: your current set of mundane tasks won’t be yours forever. As you progress upon your chosen career your set of responsibilities will change.
This doesn’t mean you will never again have to file or sort the stationary cupboard (sorry to burst that bubble!) but it does mean that in the future you’ll be a more considerate boss and colleague.
You will understand the importance of motivating and encouraging your comrades and creating an amiable work environment because you will have had first hand experience at carrying out menial tasks.
Psychologist Henry Murray developed a theory that everyone has a universal ‘system of needs’ (with individual differences) and that some needs can be fused together in order to help a person complete an action or task.
So in the context of the workplace, it means combining something you have to do with something you enjoy doing. This could take the shape of listening to your favourite playlist whilst you update the world’s most boring spreadsheet. Or work away at your laptop in your favourite cafe rather than the office. Whatever sensible factors you can combine to make that pending task more appealing is worth trying.
It increases creativity
Sandi Mann’s study Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative? examined how different types of boring tasks provoked different responses. For instance, active tasks evoked ‘divergent thinking’ – a way of thinking up multiple possible solutions as opposed to a limited number. In other words, you might consider different ways of approaching the same task in order to keep yourself engaged.
Increase your productivity
Similarly, you can increase your productivity by setting yourself challenges. Consider the Pomodoro Technique, which is essentially a timer that works in 25 minute increments.
Enforced time management can be mentally stimulating. Plus your workload won’t seem so overwhelming because you will be tackling it in short bursts. So instead of counting down the hours till lunchtime, you’ll be working efficiently until the alarm goes off.
Note: this does NOT give you permission to slack off! However tasks which are not very demanding can give your mind time to both rest and wander.
It’s easy to get caught in a loop staring at your paperwork and thinking to yourself ‘I must solve this problem’ or ‘I must have a new idea.’ And let’s face it, this only creates pressure and stress.
Instead, switching to simpler tasks can lead you to think of new ideas and solutions naturally and at your own pace because your mind isn’t overworked.
Treat the less interesting aspects of your job as a welcome break instead of a punishment.
It would be easy to dismiss menial tasks as boring or time-consuming, but the fact is that if you adopt a positive mindset and work to recognise the multiple benefits that such activities bring, you might even start to enjoy them!