When You Don’t Care

by | Process

Inevitably, there will be some projects in your create-on-demand role that you will be – let’s just say – “less than passionate” about. In fact, there will be some things you’re required to do that seem downright ridiculous and generally like a waste of time.

How do you do with these projects? Do you rush through them so that you can move on to something more interesting? Or do you give them your full attention and effort?

It can be difficult to muster up the effort to work on these projects, but if you’re intentional about how you engage with them, they can be significant capacity-builders for the work that you really want to do. Learning to find ways of engaging boring work with interest and curiosity will help you develop new muscles for the rest of your work.

Some ways to engage (even when you don’t care):

1. Make a game of overdoing it. See how much value you can contribute to the project in spite of the fact that the work itself is less than challenging. Turning the work into a competition (with yourself) may even make the project enjoyable.

2. Seek to learn. Use the project as an excuse to learn something that you don’t have time to learn in your on-demand role because of time or performance pressures. This might be the time to do some research or to learn to use a new tool.

3. Stop to be grateful. Before you engage in the work, stop to remind yourself that you probably get to do work that the vast (VAST!) majority of the world’s population would do nearly anything to be able to do. When you start to feel sorry for yourself because the work is becoming mundane, call to mind that you are among the elite of the elite workers throughout history. That should do at least a little something for your motivation.

In the end, it’s less about the work you do and more about the kind of creative worker you want to be. Choosing to engage fully even when the work is below your skill level or when you feel as if you should be doing more challenging work is like character development. It will give you the stability and fortitude you need when the work gets exciting.

How about you? Do you have any recommended methods for trudging through less-than-interesting work?

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.


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