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How To Do Jobs You Hate

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Ironing. Weeding. Or maybe it's cleaning the barbecue. There are all things we despise doing. Now maybe you love ironing. Good for you. Or you find pulling out weeds a real relaxation. I'm happy for you. But whatever task you really, really don't like (your mother always taught you not to use the "h" word), there are some simple ways to help you make them at least tolerable.

Here are five tips that will turn your day from a living nightmare to living the dream.

1. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

You may not exactly enjoy cleaning your desk drawers or digging out that tree stump but think of what a relief it will be once you've done it. Closure! You will no longer be annoyed every time you think of that awful job. If it's something you need to do regularly, focus on the end game as much as you can: a beautiful vege patch, an empty ironing basket or clean drawers which help you get better organized.

2. Set Short Goals

I don't mind ironing but with a house of nine people we have a lot of it. My wife and I have seven children, and not all of them old enough to have gained an ironing license. Recently I came up with a super simple system that has helped me get through a lot more ironing: keeping count. When I iron an item, I simply keep a tally ... just like the prisoners do in the comics, counting down the days to their release. Except I don't write on the wall, and I'll never get out of the ironing prison.

A running total gives me a clear, measurable sense of achievement, and it actually keeps me motivated.

3. Find Something Good About It

So you don't enjoy your day job. The boss is nasty, the work is soul-destroying and the people have nothing in common with you (except that they have the same nasty boss, the same work and maybe think you're from a different planet). Well, it can't be all bad. "Yes, it can", you say. If you look around with fresh eyes, you might find some aspects that are actually tolerable. Maybe even pleasant.

When I've been stuck in a rotten job or had to do something that I really detest (I didn't say the "h" word) I've often been pleasantly surprised by some little task that I actually enjoy. In the big scheme of things it mightn't be much but when you find some little angle that could be a wee bit fun, it can change your whole perspective. You even start to see the people around you in a different light, and maybe a fellow galley slave turns out to be not such bad company after all.

Look for the good things and you just never know where it will lead.

4. Get a Mentor

I would say the most valuable thing I've ever done when I've had to do a job I just hate don't love all that much, is this: get some help from someone who doesn't mind the job and maybe actually enjoys it. (It takes all types).

I know what you're thinking: offload it. Or, to use the respectable term, outsource it. Well, you can do that (depending on the job at hand). Still, if it's something that you need to learn, you might as well learn to do it better. That will save you time and frustration.

Often you'll find that the job itself is quite doable, if only you could find a better, easier way of doing it. Enter the mentor: someone who knows exactly how to weed a garden or plough that pile of crushed clothes.

There's another benefit to having someone help you through the hurdles: accountability. It really helps to have someone else give you short, measurable goals that they can ask you about later on.

5. Do It For Love

There's a difference between doing something because you like it and doing it out of love. Like is a feeling and it can come and go. Love is not just that: it's also an action. So whether you're cleaning the barbecue or helping Grandma with her computer (again), if you've got a strong reason for doing it - and that means you're doing it for real love - it will greatly ease the burden of it all.

The Difference

There are jobs that you're really good at and that you probably enjoy. There are other jobs that you really wish you'd rather not do. If you can't hand those nasty jobs off to someone else (someone who actually enjoys them - if you're lucky), then the next best thing is to get to tolerate them by getting better at doing them and rekindling your motivation.

It's not the jobs you like doing that really test your virtue and perseverance. It's the ones that you can be relied on to do, even though you'd rather not touch them. Once you get to that stage, you'll never really have to use the "h" word again. Your mother will be happy.

I hate ironing
Credit: Anthony English


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