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Overcoming Boredom The Productive Way

Saturday, March 17, 2012 by Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

I dread the winter months because I’m forced to take my jogging indoors on the treadmill, which is a source of boredom at its best. Yet, I’ve decided it’s time to turn this negative process into a better, more productive one.

My running process is quite routine. I hop on the treadmill, select a running speed and run 4 to 5 miles. Most often I attempt to zone out in hopes of reaching my goal in under an hour without going bonkers. Yet, despite my best efforts, I struggle to overcome boredom. So I decided to conduct an experiment to see how easily I could transform the process productively.

So, the first step was to change my usual routine. Rather than simply selecting an unchanging speed and elevation, I created an interval program where every quarter-mile I changed my velocity. By setting the short, quarter-mile goal, I found myself more focused on my ever-changing speed rather than how bored I was. I also discovered that the constant vigilance created motivation in me like never before. I didn’t just want to finish 5 miles in under an hour, I wanted to challenge myself to run even faster.

Turns out, this philosophy really works. I completed 5 miles in 42 minutes, which meant that I shaved eight minutes off of my run! Before this change, I used to only have time for a quick stretch after the treadmill. But, by gaining the additional minutes I am now able to stretch and get in some weight training as well.

Everyday tasks can become so routine that it’s easy to neglect opportunities for change. I, for one, can attest to this fact. I often wonder what took me so long to actively partake in intentional process improvement. The best answer I can muster is that I lost the motivation to remain engaged in a process that was easy to automate. In some way, shape or form it seemed easier for me to stay the course rather than change it up. Yet, as I now see it, my inaction was actually making the process harder and less desirable.

The adoption of speed intervals in my running may sound like a simple and small change, but the impact it has had on me is astounding. I officially beat the boredom. I increased productivity. I achieved process improvement. Best of all though, I reaped all the benefits that come with strategic self-empowerment.

Given how many processes there are in our daily lives, many of us are filled to the brim in mindless routine. So, what’s the harm in proactively innovating new ideas wherever you can? If for no other reason, it will at least add a little flair and excitement to an otherwise boring task.

So, here’s my challenge to you: test out your creativity this month! Choose any process and change it up a bit to make it more fun and/or more productive. See how quickly your innovations change the process as a whole and reflect upon the impact it has made on your business or in your personal life. I guarantee it will be worth your time!

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

What It Means To Be Productive - There’s an old adage that suggests “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” As a productivity expert however, I don’t think this saying is acceptable. I make it a point to get a tremendous amount of work accomplished in a given day.
Read on »
Doodling to Beat Boredom - Trying to determine whether or not meetings are productive in your office? If so, take a good look around the conference table during your next brainstorming session for some signs of boredom. You may just be able to draw some definitive conclusions. Read on »
The Challenge to Stopping Short - Let’s be honest, at some point or another we’ve all taken on a project that is never finished. For some of us, the choice to give up may be easy and guilt free. For others, the idea of throwing in the towel is more than just difficult. It’s painful. For my friend Gary, it was a matter of life or death. Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2012 Productivity Series

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