Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Boring Tasks

The printing firm LawCare uses to print LawCare News recently sent me their newsletter which included the information that they can also manage our mailing list. So whereas, at the moment, they print 1,500 copies of LawCare News and deliver them to me, and I spend about two full working days putting them in envelopes, sticking on address labels and stamps, and traipsing to the post office with them in three large boxes, I could simply email our mailing list to the printers and they’d deal with all that. For a fee, naturally.

Appealing? It would remove one of the duller, more menial and repetitive aspects of my job, admittedly, but I’m not tempted for a moment. I actually rather enjoy those hours of stuff, seal, stick and stamp, over and over and over again. I generally do it in my comfortable lounge rather than my office because there is more space to spread out. Sometimes I put the TV on, but daytime television is extraordinarily bad so mostly I stick to the radio. Phone calls and other, more urgent, work are often, but not always, a welcome interruption. Sometimes I continue with the task in the evening as I watch House or America’s Next Top Model (my guilty pleasure) and sometimes I even have help from the rest of the family. The photo above shows clear evidence that LawCare is employing child labour!

Even those boring and mindless tasks have their place. I’m not saying that I would like to stuff envelopes for a living every day, as opposed to for a couple of days every four months, but it is a chance to relax, take some at-work “down time”.

I worked for Argos one summer when I was a student. Since it was Welsh Wales and I was English, I was in the stock room where there was no danger of my having to interact with a customer whose language I was unable to speak. For eight hours a day I ran around the warehouse, up and down ladders, collecting items customers had bought and delivering them to the collection point. At this point I had nine O levels (and was studying for my tenth, in Welsh), four A levels and had completed the first two years of my English degree so I was somewhat overqualified for the job. But I loved it. There was almost zero stress and I got fitter than I have ever been before or since.

Almost all jobs – even within the legal profession – involve aspects which are dull, repetitive, and could just as easily be done by someone with no qualifications at all, and yet you still have to do them. Rather than putting it off indefinitely, or being frustrated by the mindlessness of it, why not try to see it as a chance to relax, give your brain a break, and enjoy some stress-free time?

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