8 Ways to Make Routine Tasks Interesting

Driving a car….. after the initial period of learning and the excitement of getting your licence it becomes a fairly routine activity. As part of my move to Canada, I am now having to get used to driving on the wrong (ie right) hand side of the road. Its not too hard to adjust, but it is necessary to pay extra attention so I don’t suddenly find myself on course for a head-on collision.

I don’t suggest people start driving on the opposite side of the road to what they should, so here are 8 other ways to spice up seemingly routine activities:

1. Use Your Non-Preferred Hand

Brushing your teeth, using the TV remote, lifting an object, writing your name…. these are all fairly routine activities that can be made somewhat interesting by challenging yourself to use your non-preferred hand.

2. Focus on Details

Imagine yourself as an artist who is viewing something that you will want to paint later. Suddenly you really start to notice subtle details that are usually missed, eg a person’s eye color, the shadow an object makes or the different shades of blue in the sky.

3. Try to Improve Your Efficiency

If you are bored doing a routine activity or task ask yourself the following question: how could I be doing this more efficiently? That is, it there a better, faster or easier way in which the activity or task can be completed? Personally, I have found that going through my inbox in the morning is often fairly routine. After asking myself how I could make the process of checking my new email more efficient, I discovered the benefits of using filters on my gmail account.

4. Take a Different Route

Many of us spend a lot of time each day going to and from work. If possible, why not take a slightly different route. The mind loves a change of scenery (even if it is only temporary).

5. Strike Up a Random Conversation

How much time do you spend waiting in lifts, at the bus stop, or in the checkout line at the shops staring off into space?. One thing I have noticed since becoming a dad and going out in public with a baby is how it is possible to have numerous random conversations with strangers. Nothing too meaningful, of course, but it feels great to make a human connection. And no, I’m not suggesting you rush out and have a kid so that you have a topic to talk about. A simple observation is normally all that is needed to get the conversation started.

6. Make a Game Of It

Why not spice up an everyday task by making a game of it? If you do a task everyday, time yourself and then see if you can beat the clock. Sometimes when checking the spam in my email account (just to be sure I didn’t miss anything) I try to guess how many penis enlargements, viagra pills, or opportunities to get rich I will receive. Yes… I’m a bit strange.

7. Learn

Once again the trip to and from work comes to mind as time that could often be made more interesting and productive. As someone who uses public transport, I constantly observe the blank look on peoples’ faces as they stare at nothing in particular. Why not spend this time learning something by reading or listening to an audiobook/ podcast?

8. Plan the Future

Many routine activities can be done with little to no thought involved. So why not think of something more interesting like the future? The other day I was washing the car, but my mind was thinking about the interesting, satisfying, and high paying job I want to find. I then set about creating a “to do” list in my mind. I need to update my resume, organize my referees, find some new business shirts and ties, etc….. the car was clean before I knew it :) .

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.

7 Comments

  1. As with anything, it’s effort toward achieving a goal that counts when the final score is tallied. Something simple that helps make your dominant hand “better” is bouncing a tennis ball with that hand. Which can be especially interesting when you do it while you’re out walking for fun and fitness.

    :o)

    Reply
  2. Funny you mention a tennis ball Anthony… I played a lot of tennis when I was younger and have been known to take a tennis ball with me whenever walking with my partner (much to her annoyance). A crucial part of tennis is the ball toss with the non-preferred hand so over time I have built up quite good co-ordination with my left hand.

    Also, you make a good point about how our goals are relevant when trying to make a routine task or activity more interesting. I am often quiet and non-talkative to people I don’t know too well. One of my goals is to be more open and build better relationships. Hence point #5 about starting random conversations ties into my goals.

    Reply
  3. One more thing that I do while driving is returning phone calls, calling my mom, wife etc. It’s a great time saver, too. Having “hands free set” is required – don’t try to use your phone or you’ll get into a trouble

    Reply
  4. I look for things to appreciate, including the people I interact with, the things around me. If you expect them to be interesting, they are more often then they are not.

    p.s. send thank you cards.

    Reply
  5. Great article peter,

    Simple loved it.

    Cheers!
    Mani

    Reply
  6. Some great and amusing tips. May I add one of my own?

    When I find myself doing some routine task that doesn’t really enthuse me, I try to imagine an audience watching me and they expect me to entertain them. So I try to make the task as amusing as possible for them by pretending to make mistakes, losing an object, miming being deep in thought etc., anything that can be visually funny.

    Doug
    http://www.dougwoods.com

    Reply
  7. Doug,

    I like that. You gave me a chuckle at 5am in the morning – no easy task…. :)

    Peter

    Reply

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