When we mentally go through our “to-do” lists at the start of every day, there are certain tasks that create an excited shiver of anticipation, but there are equally others that will send us to sleep.
The boring stuff often gets relegated to the bottom of the list, but the realists among us know that it is exactly this that should be tackled first. We all have an aspect of boring routine about our jobs, but if this is ignored for too long, it often turns into an issue for us and, more importantly, for others.
I won’t go into the details of the mundane drudgery that I have to handle as the owner of a business, and it is far from possible to delegate everything. You simply have to turn up in the morning with a goal to be the best that you possibly can that day, and in order to do the exciting stuff you have to wade through the swamp of admin, emails, etc, first.
Looking at things from another perspective (something that is always worth doing), what may seem boring and routine for you may have any number of flip sides.
Approving invoices is a simple example. A certain piece of work has been done for LMA and my signature is required to release the funds. Rather than blindly approving, I like to pause for a moment and consider how each investment has taken my business forward. Every invoice means valuable money for our suppliers, food on their tables and hope for the future. While it may be slightly painful to spend our hard-earned money, they have delivered on what they promised, and there is another layer in vital relationships. Like it or not, money makes the world go around, and contemplating the return on what we spend (nearly always) gives me a warm feeling inside. Approving invoices might be a mechanical task, but if you look behind the action, it is what helps my business to grow. If we didn’t pay our suppliers on time, relationships would become shaky and future collaborations would suffer.
If the unspectacular work is not done in the right way, there is no foundation for the spectacular to come to pass.
The movement towards gamification in the workplace adds another aspect to this discussion. This artificial competition creates an extra dimension to cold calling, email correspondence or admin tasks. It ensures that they get done to the best if our ability and the extra incentives on offer often show that we can achieve much more than we previously thought possible. If you clear your inbox in 20 minutes in the “game”, why can’t you do it every day?
However, no matter how much motivation you can find to get all the boring stuff done, the natural preference for the exciting stuff will remain. The point comes when you simply have to put up and shut up.
“Aspects of my job are dull as ditch water, and I’m okay with that.”