I want to like Boring
October 7, 2016 2:53 PM   Subscribe

Is there an app or method to help me like tasks that are boring and rote? I have gotten by in life by avoiding things that tend to bore me, such as dry readings, cooking, waiting in line or cleaning my room. It feels like I need constant stimulation in order to get by.

I admire people who can sit down and work without the urge to look at Youtube, or that are able to talk about something in a lengthy, logical fashion. I, on the other hand, need to squeeze an idea into as few words as I possibly can, and then everyone seems to miss the many points I had hinted at, in those few words. I feel like I have the attention span of a Tweet. How do I slow down?
posted by kinoeye to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
You think an app is going to help you slow down and be mindful?

The classic (ancient, even) answer here is to develop a meditation practice. Block out five minutes a day for which you literally just sit and do nothing. No singing bowls, no guided meditations, just sit.
posted by cmoj at 2:55 PM on October 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Reading what you just wrote suggests to me this might be beyond an app or quick fix. I would initially suggest some meditation guided by a professional--if that does not help, and/or you still feel significantly pressured, I think seeing a MH professional to better understand whether this is characterological, learned or perhaps neurological. All this is moot, if in fact, things are going well for you, you are content with yourself and satisfied with your major life roles. Nothing wrong with being impatient if it works--if it doesn't--well ???
posted by rmhsinc at 3:04 PM on October 7, 2016

The classic (ancient, even) answer here is to develop a meditation practice.

But there is an app for that, Headspace, and it's pretty good.
posted by sexymofo at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't use an app. I use music and podcasts to make chores like folding laundry and cleaning the kitchen less tedious. A few years back a house painter friend listened to Dan Savage on headphones while he was prepping walls and recommended it; damn if it didn't make it easier to do boring shit. So I prop my laptop in some corner for kitchen work, find something that feels like a treat, and listen the hell out of it while doing the dull stuff. YMMV.

Another pro tick from a life-long procrastinator: breaking everything down into chunks. It was a game changer when I figured out it was okay to unload a few things from the dishwasher at a time instead of the full dishwasher all at once. That trying to do everything all at once was the Road to Failure rather than the One True Way. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2016 [15 favorites]

I am not a doctor, but I know people with ADHD. They display similar behavior to what you describe. So I second rmhsinc that a visit to a medical professional could help shed some light, or at least rule things out.
posted by ejs at 3:16 PM on October 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, A. I have ADHD and yes, you sound like me but IANYD and B. It's okay to do thinks that are boring and unpleasant. Your brain will tell you it's impossible, but it's not. You can do hard or unpleasant or tedious things, just do them in short chunks that help you build up that particular effort muscle. It's not easy, and you will want to give up. Make your subgoals tiny, do only 1 or 2 at first, and when your brain tells you to stop try acknowledge that it wants you to stop but note to yourself that you are going to finish that one small thing. Then finish, do a happy dance, and reward yourself in a small, healthy way.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:20 PM on October 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Seconding the above re ADD. You have described some classic symptoms.
posted by she's not there at 3:23 PM on October 7, 2016

Although getting checked for ADD is fine if that resonates with you, I'll also say I definitely don't have ADD but, like you, I hate doing boring things. I think that's more of a human thing than necessarily indicative of something mental-health-related. :)

I think suggestions around meditation/mindfullness are good. I would look into moving meditations at least to start - I find them much more do-able than the sitting still type of mediation, because trying to sit still and think of nothing is literally the most boring thing I can imagine and gets me right back around to "I don't like doing boring things so I avoid them." If you are female, Elizabeth DiAlto does some great ones (somewhat woo woo/find your feminine energy, so you have to be into that for her stuff). I also like Erin Stutland for more cardio-oriented ones, as well as some audio-only ones to listen to while walking/running (also probably more woman-oriented). Sorry - not as aware of moving meditation-type stuff for men, but I'm sure it's out there!

I also n'th Bella Donna's suggestion for podcasts ALL THE TIME. I listen to them during cooking, dish washing, cleaning, commuting, etc. I learn lots of cool new stuff, and get the bonus of not being bored. Double win!
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2016

I find things less boring, or not boring at all, when I put my energy into concentrating on doing the very best at that thing I can. I do in fact sometimes think about how to be the best line-waiter when waiting in lines.
posted by frobozz at 4:16 PM on October 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

It seems like you're asking two questions here! One involves getting things done, and the other involves making a change in how you think about the things you do. The two apps that I would recommend are Habitica and Headspace.

Habitica gamifies your daily habits and your to-do list into a simple RPG. Pre-Habitica, there were a lot of little boring/slightly stressful tasks that I would let build up, like sorting the mail or making appointments. But now I'm much more likely to do those tasks, because I get to push a little reward-giving button afterwards. I don't think Habitica is helping my brain to change the way it thinks, but it's working with the brain I have right now.

Headspace was the first meditation-type thing that I've responded to in a long time; it's an app that's pleasant to use and didn't feel too spiritual or heavy handed. In January, after a whole week of daily Headspace sessions, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a year's subscription!

I haven't used it since, but I keep on meaning to. Really.

So I'm probably not more mindful than I was before I started using both of these apps, but I have been getting things done. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Your mileage may vary.
posted by redsparkler at 4:24 PM on October 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

I remember an exercise in Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality. As I recall, the idea was that boredom masks some less pleasant emotion such as anxiety, and the exercise was an invitation to see if you can figure out what lies beneath by paying closer attention.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:31 PM on October 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

I like pomodoro method (25 minutes working on a task/5 minute break x 4, then a longer break. Many apps to help with this including Tomato Timer in browser) for some tasks like reading. I find that knowing at the end of 25 minutes I can pursue whatever distraction for 5 minutes helps me focus better than just sitting down and trying to complete a task in a more open ended way.
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:48 PM on October 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Adderall helps me with this.

So does having a podcast or show going in the background while I work.
posted by bunderful at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

To find podcasts, I have good luck with the TuneIn radio app and the Soundcloud app.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:57 AM on October 10, 2016

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