The average person spends about 90,000 hours at work in his or her lifetime. It turns out that we devote a third of our lives to work – and that’s not counting overtime or thinking about work issues in our spare time.
At the same time, many are forced to do things they don’t like and can’t give them up. Prakhar Verma, an author of articles on self-development and productivity, described how he once had to work at a job he didn’t like and shared tips that helped him see the positive aspects of it.
I once got a part-time job where I had to call clients. I am an introvert and every call was torture for me. And I had to make calls after a full day at the office. Sometimes I felt like a zombie. My work did not give me any joy, but I had to do it.
I had to do something about it, because I couldn’t live like that anymore. And then I thought: if I can love this job, I will love any job. I ended up being able to do that before I got fired.
Maybe you hate your job. Or you like some part of it and can’t stand everything else. Or maybe you don’t care about your job at all. Whatever your case, you need to change your situation for the better.
Strive for self-development and achievement
Every job requires some kind of skill. Your goal is to improve your skills, and it doesn’t matter where you start. Track your progress – that way you’ll feel growth and notice different accomplishments.
For example, when I was calling clients, I was noticing how much better my survey skills were getting. Specifically, I needed to work on my ability to build trust with the interviewer, speak clearly, listen, persuade, ask tough questions, and report. After each call, I evaluated these skills of mine.
Remember to consider the level of difficulty of the skill. I initially worked on the easiest skills – for example, learning to speak clearly. When I became more comfortable making the calls, I started to practice asking the tough questions.
You may ask: What about jobs that don’t require any skills? Let’s say you only need to know how to use a computer to type. For me, such work was not difficult, but I set myself the goal of improving my typing speed and accuracy. You could also, for example, learn how to type with the correct placement of your fingers on the keyboard.
Give yourself freedom or limitations
If your job involves following clear instructions, try doing it a little bit your own way.
Back to my story. When I was calling clients, I had a list of questions to ask and an instruction to follow. But repeating the same thing every time was incredibly boring. So I decided to do things differently. I started saying hello in different ways and asking questions in a different order. I tried to keep the conversation natural and choose the right moment for this or that question. Then I checked off the list to see if I had asked the client everything.
Another option for solving the problem is to create some imaginary constraints and personal challenges. They force you to think creatively.
Find the meaning and significance of your work
There’s a famous parable about two bricklayers. One of them complained about his work and said it was worthless. The other said the following about it: “I am the luckiest man in the world. I can have a hand in creating important, useful and beautiful examples of architecture. I turn ordinary stones into exquisite masterpieces.” Both stonemasons were right in their own way – the only difference was their attitude to their work.
There is a reason for everything. You don’t have to be a big cog in the corporate machine, but even the small ones are important. After all, if one tiny cog stops working, the whole machine stops working.
Be happy with the contribution you can make. When I wasn’t motivated when calling customers and entering data, I thought about helping my employer and the people he serves. And all of a sudden, my outlook was changing – I was no longer just thinking about myself. I had a much bigger purpose.
Add (un)predictability to your work
If your work often seems chaotic and you are nervous, try to make it more stable and predictable. If, on the contrary, you are engaged in monotonous work, then thanks to the element of surprise you will have more fun working.
In my case, I listened to different music when I filled out the data. Sometimes I tried to guess some of the information as I entered it.
And if you need something to streamline your chaotic work, try planning ahead and setting some boundaries so you can be more confident in what you’re doing and feel less stressed.
Think of a reward for yourself
We all want some kind of reward for our efforts. Your employer may praise you or give you a raise, but don’t just rely on them. Reward yourself.
Rewards can be different. Celebrate small victories with small rewards. For example, after five phone calls I would give myself a short food break. For bigger rewards, you can use a point or checkpoint system.
The two best rewards you can give yourself are praise or something tangible. For example, you can upgrade your workplace, buy yourself a book or training course, watch a movie or TV series, play a game, or try something new.
This way you won’t get too carried away with anything (including work) and you won’t forget to celebrate the little joys of life.
Find fellow workers
If you have to work alone, look for people with the same profession. I am a solo entrepreneur, and I try to connect with those who do what I do.
It doesn’t matter if you work as a programmer, designer, writer or artist. Communicate with those who can leave feedback on your work, inspire you or teach you something. People from other professions are also useful – they can help you look at your work from a different perspective. And you can joke around with your colleagues and chat about anything.
Take advantage of the power of deadlines
Whether you like it or not, when deadlines are tight, we work with maximum efficiency. It’s human nature.
When you have a deadline, suddenly even the most difficult tasks become doable. You’re completely focused on the task at hand and you enjoy that rush of productivity.
One of the easiest ways to trigger it is to use a timer. As Parkinson’s Law says, “work fills the time allotted to it.” Remember it and use this information wisely so that you don’t spend hours on tasks you don’t enjoy doing.