Not engaging

Have you heard your inner voice shouting out yelling “Let’s stop doing this”? It’s not just the inner voice, there are other physical symptoms associated with doing something that is excruciatingly boring. You might find your eyelids slowly sinking or feel a yarn knocking on your lips trying to push it open.

If you have felt any of the above symptoms, then my friend, you are not enjoying whatever you are doing.

Don’t get me wrong here. Doing something boring is just LIFE. It is absolutely stupid to expect to do something really interesting all the time. Most of us will spend our time doing silly and dull things.

There are essentially two solutions to the above life problem.

  1. Find something interesting to do
  2. Making whatever you are doing interesting

As I stated earlier, inevitably, you will come across some colorless task in your life, so the solution that I will focus on in this blog post will be the latter one.

Let’s start from square one, shall we?

Table of content

Why bother to make something engaging?

  1. To do a good job at it
  2. To make it more fun

How to make something engaging?

  1. Stop thinking it is boring
  2. Reward yourself at the end of the task
  3. Take a chill pill
  4. Old school pros and cons list
  5. Reframing and rewiring
  6. Try to be the best at it
  7. Find yourself a company

Wrap up

Before we dive into all the details of “how to making something engaging?”. I need to address the elephant in the room.

Why bother to make something engaging?

The reasons to make something engaging are very simple.

1. To do a good job at it

If you are not enjoying what you are doing, then you won’t give your best at it. All you care about is finishing the task. Doing a good job at it won’t even cross your mind. Whatever it is that you are doing, doing a good job at it is beneficial no matter what. So making it engaging is the best option to do a good job at anything.

2. To make it more fun

No one looks forward to doing something boring. If it is a life-draining chore and you need to get it done anyway, why not make it more fun rather than going through all the miseries? To put it simply, if you are going to do it, why not enjoy it?

How to make something engaging?

Let’s cut the chase and get to the matter here.

Let me remind you that making something engaging is an activity that takes time and effort to do. Don’t expect it to change like flipping a switch.

Following are the steps that I found useful in making something engaging.

1. Stop thinking it is boring

Hold your horses right there. I exactly know how silly this advice sounds like and I agree this is plainly obvious. But somehow these strangely obvious, hence easily overlooked and hard to take it seriously, advice has the biggest impact.

Let me tell you what exactly this first point means. This point doesn’t mean that you just stop thinking that it is boring and then you will miraculously start enjoying it.

The first point is about immediately dismissing the thought when it hits you that this is boring.

Will that make it interesting?

Absolutely not.

But if you keep telling yourself that this is boring, you will never find it interesting, ever. So the first step to even have the remote possibility of engaging in your boring tasks is to stop thinking how painstakingly boring it is.

All you need to do here is catch yourself when you think that this is boring and immediately brush off that thought.

This might seem like fooling yourself. The thing is, your mind decides what is boring and what is interesting. Nothing is objectively boring or engaging. If you want to change your view on something, we could use some minor tweaking.

2. Reward yourself at the end of the task

This is the easiest and most effective one. If you take away something from this post, let it be this point.

This is a point I adopted from reading ‘Atomic habits’. Click on it if you want to read my book summary of it. Specifically, read ‘Temptation bundling’.

Some activities are rewarding to us, like watching movies or sports, spending time on social media. If you pair this activity with the action that you want to do, then you will make it more attractive. This is temptation bundling.

The basic idea is that if you club your favorite activity at the end of your boring activity, then you will make your boring activity a lot of fun and you will be motivated to finish the activity to get your reward at the end.

This need not be an activity as well. This could be a materialistic object like food or sweets that you love.

The only criterion for it is that you love it. Whatever it is, is fine.

3. Take a chill pill

I always think we need to loosen up a lot, stop being grumpy and moody.

I will share a personal experience of mine to elucidate this point.

When I joined my job, I loved it. I used to enjoy it. But then came a searing work pressure which culminated in my burn-out. After that, thinking about work would make my heart pound and I instantly hated my work. Every day, I would think about quitting my job.

The reason I brought this up is that one experience has changed the way I saw my work and how I felt about it. Though the situation has smoothened out a lot now, I still haven’t fully recovered.

I now know the reason I don’t feel engaged in doing my work is out of the fear of what happened. I’m scared that it might happen again.

This pointless stress is now making me disengaged with my work. Mind you, I’m an easily stressed person. So for me, engaging in something requires a lot of loosening up.

That is why I brought up this point as well.

If you are not interested in your activity based on some baseless worry or pointless arguments like me, just take that chill pill.

Being grim doesn’t help you find anything fun. Try to be fun so that everything you do can also be fun.

4. Old school pros and cons list

Time for some psychoanalysis, my friend.

This is simple, just write down what you love about the activity and what you hate about the activity.

The reason being rationality.

When you think and write down what you love and hate about something, you will have clarity of why you feel how you feel. This can help you be both realistic and reasonable.

Remember my sad story you read at the last point?

Why do you think I didn’t quit my job despite everything?

Of course, I made a pros and cons list!

The reason you are doing it regardless of how much you don’t want to do it clearly means that the benefit outweighs the detriment. Having this clarity for yourself might change your mind. Who knows?

5. Reframing and rewiring

This is the part where you have to use your creativity.

You need to find out some interesting aspects about it to fool yourself into doing it.

It will shock you to see how easily we can fool over ourselves.

This point is again adopted from ‘Atomic habits’ by James Clear. In chapter 10, ‘how to reprogram your brain to enjoy hard habits’. The book talks about how reframing things could change how you feel about things.

For example, simply replacing ‘have to’ with ‘get to’ can change how we feel about things. I have to work become I get to work which sounds a lot more engaging.

It’s not just limited to reframing the sentence, you can rewire how you think about it as well.

When I was in college, whenever there was an overwhelming disaster, I used to whine about it asking ‘Why do things have to be this way?’. After joining work, I rewired myself to think ‘How can I solve this issue?’. That single change in mentality made me change the way I function and started handling such situations a lot more maturely.

Find ways you change the way you think about it. Try to reframe it in aspects that are attractive to you.

6. Try to be the best at it

It is not a coincidence that we made zillions of games and competitions. We are better at functioning competitively.

At school and college, you will compete to be the best student. At work, you will compete to be the best employee.

The reason is that we don’t like to lose at anything, no matter how silly it is.

If I challenge you for a rock, paper, scissors game, or a duel, you won’t want to lose at either of them.

No matter how much you hate doing it, if you lose out on something if you didn’t do it, you would do it every time.

So why not give yourself a competition?

Try to beat your previous best score.

Before you know it, you will be in a frenzy.

7. Find yourself a company

This is something that grand you immense relief.

There is comfort in the company of someone else who is in the same boat as you are.

Maybe that is why we have support groups and teams.

I remember when I just joined work; they made me sit in a lab all alone, totally isolated. They made me self-study a lot of the materials which they have provided and try out various samples. I felt miserable and clueless primarily.

Everything changed at once when someone else joined me. I felt flooded with relief when I realized there was someone else with me.

I realized the value of having a shoulder to lean on at that very moment.

The situation was all the same, but I was now laughing and smiling about how ridiculous everything is. There is something indeed pleasurable about slagging off and rubbishing all our problems.

Go find yourself a company on your tough road. Even if it doesn’t make it engaging, at least it wouldn’t feel miserable anymore.

Wrap up

Through this blog post, we looked at why you should try something engaging and how to make something engaging. We have gone through how rewarding, reframing and rewiring, being competitive, having company, etc. can make some lifeless chore into an engaging activity.

I hope you would find at least some of these points relevant and useful. Wishing you an engaging life ahead.

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