How To Do Boring Tasks - The 2 Rules

We all sometimes have boring tasks that we need to do. Sometimes we try to avoid them as much as possible. But as we do not do them, every day, they bother us more and more.

So here are 2 rules that I apply in my life and work very well.

Rule 1: Spend a small time on that boring task every day.

It could be half an hour, 2 hours, or another amount of time. You will decide what the amount of time should be, depending on the task and you. All you need to do is to discipline yourself to work at least that much time every day on that subject.

The amount of time should not be long that it will discourage you. It must be a time that you say to yourself, “I can do this much every day”. Discipline yourself to do it every day, and then you can set yourself free to do anything the rest of the day every day. When you start doing this every day, and you feel that the time you set is too long, you can make the time shorter from that day on for the coming days. But discipline yourself to work this new amount of time every day. You can make it shorter again if necessary. But the important thing is that you discipline yourself to work on this boring task every day a certain amount of time that you set as a goal. If you like, you can take a holiday on weekends, for example.

This discipline will make the task progress. Eventually, every task takes a particular time to be completed. So if you do some every day, it will progress, and you will eventually finish it. Even if you do not work 6 hours on that task every day, it is much better than doing nothing on that task, not progressing, and being bothered more and more every day. 

One key aspect is that your goal is NOT to complete some part of a task in a time frame. It will just create an unnecessary disappointment if it cannot be completed in that time frame and it is very likely that we guess the amount of time required wrong because there will always be unexpected aspects in almost all tasks.

The important thing is to have made progress in terms of hours. Let's say it turns out that the task takes 20 hours for us to complete. If we work 2 hours every day, we will make 2 hours of progress every day, and it will be completed in 10 days. That simple. No need for stress, no need for disappointment. If there will be some aspects that we did not expect and it turns out that the task takes 40 hours for us to complete, then it will be completed in 20 days. Of course, we can and we should always look for more efficient ways, but we think that what we do in the most efficient way we can currently think of, then it is what it is, again no need for stress, no need for disappointment.

Now, we need to make sure that we count only the time we really work on that task and do not count the breaks or the time we spend on other things to make our discipline work efficiently.

So here is a way to make sure: You need to take note of the time you start working on that task (just that task) and note the time when you give a break for whatever reason. Then you note the time when you start again, then the time you give a break again and so on. Then you add the times when you really worked on that task.

Then you check if you worked on that task the time you set before. If no, continue working. Just force yourself a bit more to finish the time.

If yes, you are free for the rest of the day to do anything you want.

For example, It will look like this for a day: 09:30 (work start) - 10:00 (break start), 10:15 (work start) - 11:00 (break start) …

Simpler version: 09:30 - 10:00 (30 minutes), 10:15 - 11:00 (45 minutes) Total: 75 minutes (1hour 15 minutes)

In the above example just above, you worked 1 hour 15 minutes till now. If the time you set was 2 hours, it means that you need to work 45 minutes more.

Then on a separate place, take note of how much time you spent on that task every day as a summary. For example:

12 March: 2 hours 15 minutes

13 March: 3 hours 07 minutes

14 March: 2 hours 04 minutes

And so on.

Now here the magic happens. As days go by, you will see from your notes of daily time spent summary explained just above, that sometimes you will work approximately the amount of time you set as a goal; on a few exceptional days, you will work a little less. But gradually you will notice that in most of the days you worked more time (sometimes much more time) than you set as a goal. And you will start to say “Today I broke my record. Today I spent more time on that task compared to the one in the previous days”. And that will be very motivating and fun. You will feel very good about yourself.

But do not increase the time you set as a goal. Keep the time you set the same because not every day, you will be able to work more than that time, and this could be discouraging, and there is no need for that. But on days you will work more than your goal, you will congratulate yourself and be very happy because of your achievement :).

Rule 2: Start the day with the boring task (Assuming that the boring task is a task that is important and a task that needs to be done. Do not start with a task just because it is boring; they need to be required or important as well. You should always spend less and less time on tasks that are not important or required, but this is a subject of another post.)

The reason we should start the day with the boring task is that boring tasks need more energy, patience, and stamina. And in the mornings, we have the most energy, patience, and stamina. As time goes by during the day, we get more tired, and finally, we are so tired that we need to sleep, don’t we? So if we start with tasks that are more fun or easier for us, when we leave them, time will already have passed through the day. We will be more tired, less patient, and it is much more likely that we will say, “Let’s do it tomorrow.”. And we will likely say it in the coming days as well.

Or worse, at a later time through the day, when we know that we have to start working on that boring task and we do not have the energy, patience to do it, we will likely say, “Let’s give a break, then we will start.”. And very likely, that break will not end till late evening, and not only will we not have done the boring task, we will not have done any other task as well.

So that is why the best and efficient time to work on a boring task would be the start of the day.

That's it. Those were the 2 rules for boring tasks that I apply in my life and work very well. Give it a try!

I wish you a nice and productive day.