We all have to do it, one time or another. The same old grind, day in and day out. Just put your head down and keep working.
You can keep it up fine for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. But eventually life starts to seem a bit too repetitive, a bit too stale, as one day starts to blend into the next.
If your work isn't particularly meaningful, or it was once was but has now grown stale, the tedium can get intense.
You may not want to hear this, but if you want to make a difference in your daily grind, you'll have to work even harder. At least for a little while, until your new efforts become habits. You didn't think you could just push a button and lighten the load, did you?
There are a lot of different things you can try; of course, not everything will be right for everyone. But you can be happier and more productive. Experiment with the following tactics for injecting some life into your daily routine.
Some of these might seem a bit obvious, but if you're not doing them already – why not? Some are variations on how to prioritize your day, while still others might be things you've thought about but never tried.
What do you have to lose? Give a few of these a shot today!
If you're not getting time in to be social, life can begin to feel empty. This is a big one.
Working in an office with other people doesn't usually fill that social need. It's important to make time to see other people, for a variety of reasons.
Humans are social animals, and being social is good for us. Research shows that stronger social connections improve both physical and mental health, and reduce the likelihood of many negative health conditions.
Conversely, social isolation can lead to an increase in issues like depression, and is associated with earlier cognitive decline. Overall, people with better social ties tend to live longer, as well.
Social activity won't usually just happen on its own – you have to make time for it. And if we don't meet our basic social needs, the rest of our lives will take a hit. (Big dinners with friends are one of my personal favorites.)
Some good news: our social well-being isn't tied to the number of friends we have. It's more about how we feel about our social lives. Do you feel connected to the friends and family you have, no matter how many of them there are?
That sense of connection is far more important than the number of friends you have. You can even get it from strangers, in the right situation.
If you're looking for a way to get involved with a great community, check out what's happening here at HeroX. There are a ton of world-changing challenges in progress right now – what do you have to offer?
Break Up Your Routine
One of the best ways to interrupt your daily grind is to literally interrupt it. If possible, work in some breaks to liven your day up.
A great place to start is with the Pomodoro Technique. Named after the tomato-shaped timer of the creator (“pomodoro” is “tomato” in Italian), this technique helps you focus by breaking your work up into shorter sprints.
Each work segment is called a Pomodoro. Using a timer, here's the basic technique:
- Set the timer for 25 minutes and work on a task.
- When the timer rings, take a short break for 5 minutes or so. Stretch, walk around, get some coffee or water, etc.
- Reset the timer for 25 minutes, and repeat.
- Every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break. Try 15-30 minutes, until you feel ready to start another 4-Pomodoro cycle.
It may sound like you're spending way too much time not working with this method. All those breaks?
But you might be surprised at how much you end up getting done. You'll be working in sprints, so you should be energized to work hard at the start of each Pomodoro.
The key here is breaking work up into segments. So if you get interrupted halfway through a Pomodoro and have to take some time out of your work, you should consider pausing or restarting that segment.
Try these time lengths at first, and then experiment with Pomodoros of lengths that work for you.
There are a ton of apps you can use to easily implement the Pomodoro Method, turning your phone or computer into a tomato-timer.
Quick Tips to Improve Your Mood
- Exercise: Everyone knows it's a good idea, but not everyone does it. Try doing it before work to feel good all day (it can actually make the day go faster, somehow).
- Get the important stuff done: Tim Ferriss recommends picking a few tasks for which you could say “if I get these done, I'll feel accomplished all day.” If you're feeling run down, do those first thing and you can coast the rest of the day.
- Get the small stuff done: Alternatively, it might work better for you to do the simple, small stuff first. This can help you build a feeling of momentum, giving you the energy to tackle bigger tasks later in the day.
- Keep a progress bar: Instead of checking your watch frequently, create a progress bar of some kind (digital or not) to give a visual representation of your progression throughout the day. Note: if you spend too much time looking at how much of the bar you have left to go, this one might not be for you.
- Get more/better sleep: Lack of sleep can cause us to lose motivation, dampen our mood, and make us more vulnerable to minor annoyances.
- Set aside time for communication: Instead of checking your email and cell phone throughout the day, designate specific times to check. This can help keep you focused and away from temptations.
- Set aside time for self-improvement: If you're not growing and developing as a person, is it any wonder that things feel stale?
- Make lists: When you have the time, create to-do lists for when you know you'll be busy. This is easier on the mind, so you won't be burdened with prioritizing when you have work to do. A great time to do this is at the end of the work day – make a list for the start of the next day, and you'll be off to a running start.
- Keep a file of positive feedback: If you're feeling run down, forgetting why you're doing what you're doing, check your positive-feedback file to get a reminder of why it's worth it.
- Reduce your commute: Traveling is tiring. If possible, reduce the time you spend going to and from work.
Next Task: Make Life Better
Every day doesn't have to be like the last. If your daily grind is getting you down, you'll have to look at your life and how you got there.
What have you stopped doing, that you used to love? What do you want to do, but just can't seem to find the time for? Have you stopped doing new things?
There are a lot of ways to improve your work day, no matter how boring or endless you might find it. If you can't find a way inside work, you'll have to make your life outside work all the more meaningful.
How do you make a tedious day better? What habits, rituals, or techniques do you use to bring some energy and excitment into your life? Let us know in the comments below!