How to cope with boring tasks
19 April 2017 | beando_admin
Well, here’s the thing. There is no such thing as a ‘boring’ task.
Think about it for a moment. The task in itself can’t be boring… it just is. A task comes up, it needs doing and is intrinsically connected to moments before and after it. Each task is part of a flow of events.
But unfortunately we don’t tend to see it like that, because we superimpose our own interpretation over what is happening. It’s you that thinks the task is boring. You label it, judge it and before you know it your whole mindset and approach to the task is one of reluctance, then avoidance. In other words you have identified with how you think about the task rather than what the task actually is.
So a predetermined and mostly distracted mindset of like or dislike (let’s face it, mostly dislike) linked to action is the fault here. For example, the prospect of walking the dog around the block might be really boring for you but for the dog it’s the most exciting thing that has ever happened! It works the other way too. Great artists don’t think they are setting out to make the world’s most important painting. If they did, nothing would ever get done; the pressure would be too much.
So in everyday life we often put ourselves into the opposite of a conscious, meditative and mindful position. We are either trying to avoid doing the task or we want it to be over as soon as possible. Worse still, we think we deserve some reward or recognition for completing the task.
So how do we shift our perspective on work? How do we act consciously in everyday life?
Building your awareness
As we build awareness through meditation practice, we begin to notice those thought patterns that interfere with how we feel and what we do. Deciding, judging and avoiding builds resistance, creates obstacles and forces you to drop-out of the present. We then get caught up in our thinking about what is happening rather than what is actually happening. It’s exhausting, stressful and… boring!
Meditation is not just sitting down and being its mostly about the doing!
Yoga science says we can never escape action
We can never avoid taking the dog out or emptying the dishwasher. We are all bound to stuff that we have to do. Even a yogi sitting in a cave is bound by stuff he or she has to do.
In fact, meditation comes into its own when that being is joined with doing. Being in the world, doing your thing moment to moment, skillfully, creatively and purposefully is the point of it all, even if the task confronting you is just emptying the dishwasher. Every moment is a call to action. Why not then make it perfect and skilfull? All we have to do is work out a way to use action, our work, as a way of liberating and transcending our negative thoughts about it. So why not use these actions to express who you really are, rather than who you presume yourself to be.
The key is to know how to get out of the way: to just be and do the action.
5 tips for getting mindfulness into your everyday life:
- Don’t expect, accept – Avoid approaching the task with a mindset that judges or describes what you think is happening, rather than what is happening. Don’t assume that completing that task will also result in some personal reward or merit. These are distractions. In yoga, we call this approach ‘non-attachment’; it’s liberating and helps you stay present.
- Switch on your senses – Once your mental distractions fall into the background you will naturally be aware of where you are and what you are doing. Your senses will fire up automatically. You will feel, hear, see and smell what it’s like to be doing what you are doing; you will be fully involved.
- Find your flow – Then you will notice the mind/body will fire up too. There will be smoothness and effortlessness. Not only in you but also in what you are doing. Resistance, reluctance and doubt will fall away; you will feel flow tinged with a little joy.
- Dare to let go – To deepen this, switch your attitude towards diminishing the sense of ‘i-ness’ in what is happening. Just watch and observe and everything will come together moment by moment. In other words you are not the initiator of what is happening, it’s just happening. You collaborate by observing.
- See the bigger picture – And in the end the most mundane task is a chance to be whole. A feedback loop is created between your doing and your being which, when practiced and nourished, will impact and shape the person you really are. Not the bored individual you thought you were.
When we act this way we connect our inner being to our outer doing. That’s at the very core of our beanddo #makehappywork programmes. We see, feel and know what is actually occurring. This is called waking-up and taking responsibility. And then every task becomes effortless and fluid. It flows and you flow.
All tasks done in this way become little moments of joy, allied to serving the world.
So be nice and empty the dishwasher!