Ever find yourself putting off mundane tasks? You know those ones you kind of dread doing because they’re tedious, unrewarding and soooo boring.
Every job I’ve ever had – even the dreams ones – came with its fair share of banal. And of course the longer you procrastinate hoping you’ll find a way to avoid these tasks, the more just thinking about doing them starts to weigh you down and undermine your performance at work.
Given a sense of meaning has been found to improve our performance, commitment and wellbeing, is it possible to find meaning even in these smallest of tasks?
Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, a former Harvard professor, suggests even the smallest tasks can be infused with greater meaning when they are connected to personal values and goals.
He taught me that different people find meaning in different things. So in order to experience a sense of purpose, the goals and tasks we set for ourselves need to be intrinsically meaningful. They need to be personally significant and in accordance with our own values and passions rather than dictated by our family, friends, workplaces or society.
But how do you make even the mundane meaningful? In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you Tal’s simple three step formula for transforming even the most mundane task into something more meaningful.
What Gives Your Work Meaning?
Tal recommends we find more meaning in small tasks at work by placing a piece of paper horizontally on your desk and on the left-hand side write down a task that feels devoid of meaning. For me I find maintaining all the various social media channels my business relies on a little draining, so I’d write social media.
Then draw an arrow to the right and ask what’s the purpose of this task? What will I accomplish? And write down your answer. For me the purpose of social media is to help share what I’m learning about positive psychology with others.
Finally, if what’s written down still doesn’t feel important enough to get you firing on all cylinders then draw an arrow to the right once more and ask what does this result lead to? For me sharing what I’m learning about positive psychology with others might help bring out the best in others and make the world a little kinder. Now that’s worth spending some time doing.
Of course if your answer doesn’t come in three steps you can simply continue to draw an arrow to the right and keep asking what does this result lead to until you find your own “aha” moment that makes it easy to see the bigger value of a little task.
If you want more resources on finding meaning in your work remember to check out Professor Michael Steger’s free survey to see how much meaning you’re finding at work or watch him talk about the value of meaning at work and what organizations and individuals can do to make jobs more meaningful.
What meaning can you find in mundane tasks?