How to Find Motivation for Boring Work

Let’s face it. Even at the most interesting work places, boring work will exist. Good days wouldn’t be so good if it weren’t for the bad days. But how do you get motivation to work the boring yet important tasks?

13 Steps to Find Motivation for Boring Work

Let’s dig for some extra motivation for finishing the boring work.

  1. Look at the big picture.

    A famous story is narrated as follows: two construction workers were interviewed. Both were working on a huge skyscraper in New York City. The interviewer asked the first worker: What do you do all day?

    Worker 1: “I just hit those nails into this metal rod all day and then go home to do this thing all over again tomorrow.

    Second worker was asked the same question. He answered: “Look up, I am building a skyscraper!

    So what are you doing? How does it fit into the big picture? See the added value.

  2. Write about it.

    Speak to your best friend: you. This is what I am doing right now. It gives you awareness of your situation and gives you a chance to be your own doctor (or psychiatrist).

    Me: I don’t want to do this work because it’s the opposite of interesting.

    Me (with glasses): And what makes you think so. . .?

  3. Put a spin on it.

    When working with some un-interesting stuff, I usually think about ways to improve the process and make it more efficient. (This is how 99% of programming languages came into life!)

  4. STICKK.

    Stick yourself with a contract which would be both a carrot and a stick. This is a helpful motivating and constraining tool. Put money on the line. Check out to get motivation for ticking off those boring chores.

  5. Break it down.

    Use SCRUM (for the technically inclined out there) or GTD (for the productivity inclined) and Pomodoro technique (for the academically inclined). Basically, break it down into meaningful atomic chunks and schedule some allotted time for each chunk. THEN write it down on a whiteboard (preferred) or on paper.

  6. Close your eyes and motivate yourself.

    Remind yourself of what you know. No pain, no gain. A 1000 mile trip starts with a single step, etc. Convince yourself of the importance of the task (if it is indeed so. . .).

  7. Talk about it.

    I find it helpful when attacking a huge project to talk to colleagues. I approached a couple of them and asked them directly: How would you attack a large project if it was handed to you? I got interesting answers.

    Here you may run a risk of looking like a lazy colleague who lacks motivation. For that share some of your tips, you may say: “Writing documentation can be tedious. I usually keep reminding myself of the next person who will be reading this documentation some years from now and say that I am awesome! How do you handle tedious tasks?”

  8. Don’t focus on the tiny details.

    Focus on what’s important, on what adds value. Create a skeleton for the task at hand and work horizontally.

  9. Take a break.

    Do something else for an hour.

  10. Don’t do it.

    Defer it. But since you are still reading, I am guessing this is out of the question.

  11. Sit up straight.

    Chances are you are crouched over. Smile–chances are you not smiling. These things will give you a mental change and even a computer monitor perspective change (maybe work is more interesting from another angle).

  12. Print it out.

    If printable. Get away from the computer and just read (or do) it the old-fashioned way.

  13. Stop reading this article and go do it.


How do you motivate yourself for a boring task? Got tips?

Image by Nono Fara via Flickr.

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Zed is a software engineer with a knack for entrepreneurship and mini-projects. He is currently working out of IdeaMuscle with a focus on idea generation and innovation.


  1. Tanja Handl on the 3rd August

    Love this article! I laughed really hard at step 13. Would you mind if we’d translate your advice and publish it in our blog? We’d love to spread your ideas in Germany & Austria.

    • Zaid on the 4th August

      Thanks Tanja! Feel free to translate. Thanks

    • Tina Su on the 4th August

      Go ahead Tanja. Just link back to us. 🙂

      Thank you.

    • Tanja Handl on the 5th August

      Thank you very much, Tina. We will publish the article on tuesday. 🙂

  2. Roy Grubb on the 3rd August

    I don’t have a lot of boring tasks, but they can’t always be avoided. Many boring jobs are repetitive. Many repetitive jobs can be automated if you have the right tool. I find I can motivate myself by making or adapting a software tool and then using that. Building the tool and using it can be very satisfying.

    But that’s not possible for every task, and I find that just focusing on the feeling that I’ll get when finished can often help to motivate and push me forward.

    • Zaid on the 4th August

      Focusing on the feeling is a great point. This can be added in point 6. Making the process more efficient by automation might take more time now but will produce gains in the future.

  3. Steve Prothero on the 3rd August

    Maybe another one is to look at how you can exercise some leadership to improve the task or to have your skills fully used. Often we think of leadership as something that is done by others when in fact we can exercise leadership from the front line. What do you think?

  4. Steffan Chyzak on the 4th August

    I used an application called Wunderlist to take away the load from my mind, and then sync my to do list at home. That way its only out of sight and out of mind whilst I relax.

    Drinking water can help and changing your iPod music for something different can evoke mental changes to give you a creative edge.

  5. Investment Banking Jobs on the 10th August

    Here’s another one – schedule it. Put it on your to-do list so it pops up as a reminder and allocate time to it on your online diary. That said…I still have a few tasks outstanding!

  6. OM PRAKASH SINGH on the 18th August

    This is as good as we do in our work of intertest.

  7. Motivation on the 22nd August

    Feeling bored at work once a week is normal i think and we can’t avoid it, it’s already part of our life. Motivation

  8. tetrahidro on the 9th September

    boring, repetetive work? i colour the excel cells! favourite is pink. exploring new excel features 🙂
    ooor: put on some essential oil, and chill music – boring job turns to relaxing from this point
    better: if its able to multitask, i sing some of my favourite songs in a duett with youtube (or with my college)

  9. What A Joke on the 20th September

    Here what I did, srew this, went travelling and had a REAL life. LOL 9-5 rat race is a joke.

    • J Rogers on the 26th June

      How exactly do you make money at “went travelling”? Please, if you have a secret do share because that sounds awesome to me!

  10. Lina on the 26th May

    hahaha =) you made me laugh. I like articles which make me feel like someone is actually talking personally to me … for real =)

  11. Jeffrey on the 24th June

    None of this can help because the ENTIRE job is boring. I am a freelance translator and sometimes the most boring texts come across my screen. I’m translating 44 pages about hydroelectric power stations and transboundary rivers and i can’t take it anymore… I’m only on page 19…

    • J Rogers on the 26th June

      That sounds like ugh…good luck!

  12. J Rogers on the 26th June

    I really like number 10, in fact I’m considering a career change because I am tired, unhappy, and frustrated with my current work. I’ve done it well and been successful at it but never really enjoyed it. These are great tips for when you just have to get through a boring task though. Pandora radio is usually my saving grace in that aspect as well. 😉

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