Once upon a time, we had a couple of guys who, when asked to do an assignment, would sometimes say,
“I’ve washed those windows before.”
- I’ve already done this
- I don’t want to do it again
- It’s beneath my dignity
- If it has to be done, then someone who has not yet attained my exalted status should do it
How entitled is that? This attitude says, “My professional development is more important than doing work that merely meets company goals.” (They both ended up on the wrong side of a layoff: not surprising.)
Of course, most of us hope to develop our skills by working on new projects. It’s in the best interest of organizations (at least sometimes) to provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow while they are working.
So, what to do when nobody else is going to do this and you’re about to write that weekly report for the zillionth time, to teach the same class to the same general audience again, or to do some other repetitive activity that now bores you to tears?
Here are some research-based motivation strategies to help out. Whatever it is that has you singing the Window Washing Blues, do it…
- Better than before. Cleaner windows, fewer streaks. A more accurate report. Smarter, happier learners.
- More efficiently than ever. Wash the windows faster (but still no streaks). Word the report more succinctly. Make sure everyone learns as much, but finish the training sooner.
- A new way. Go green: try newspapers & vinegar instead of commercial cleaners. Reformat the report to make it easier to produce or read. Add some variety to the training that works better for you and the learners.
- With music, an audio book, or a podcast. Enjoy the sounds or learn something new while you’re washing those windows. Music without words can make writing tasks more enjoyable. Try playing just the right music before class and during breaks. Your students will enjoy it, too.
- While remembering your goals. These can be your work goals or goals that your work enables, such as personal financial goals.
- While remembering what you value. Clean windows. Turning in a well-written report on time (even if you don’t enjoy writing it). Helping your students to learn what you are teaching them.
- While avoiding something else. Let’s say that you know you’re bound to procrastinate on some even less desirable or more difficult task (doing your taxes, say, or writing the Great American Novel). Instead of playing computer games, wash the windows or finish that report. (This one is kind of a last resort.)
Most of us sometimes have to wash the same windows over again. Repetitive work. Possibly boring. Potentially adding no glory.
Challenge yourself to add quality or speed. Try something new. Make it somehow entertaining. Don’t forget your personal or assigned goals and values. And if all else fails, wash the windows while you’re putting something else off. (And then you can work on that while you avoid cleaning the barbeque.)