You Need Mind Numbing Work

computer-task-whnHave you ever enjoyed mind numbing work?

You need work that’s not going to weigh down your brain. A heavy brain gets tired. On the other hand, a slightly distracted brain is a light brain that can work on other problems.

Personal story

I was recently working on gathering all my receipts and entering them into my accounting software. As I was entering, I had the quick thought that I hated doing this stuff. I put on some Mozart to ease my mood.

My thoughts relaxed and I stopped worrying about the other things that I could be doing. I entered the numbers and accessed my subconscious. I was working in the moment and my brain found a solution to a problem that I had been struggling with before.

I used to hate mind numbing work until I began to see the importance of doing a little bit each day. It opens an access pipeline that allows me to find solutions to problems that I barely knew existed. I thought that once I came to this realization, I would have my hatred of mind-numbing work under control. Nope.

The negative thoughts kept coming until I exposed my weakness for what it was – excuses for not wanting to try too hard because I was afraid of failure. If I procrastinated on doing my work then I didn’t have to face my possible lack of success. Once I knew what was wrong, I could find the solution. It has taken some practice, but the mind numbing work has become a vital part of my happiness.

Shower Technique

Have you ever had a brilliant idea in the shower?

It’s because your mind is relaxed and a little distracted.

See, the problem is that when you focus so hard on a solution, your mind gets filled with anxiety and it clouds up.

Your mind needs numbing work so that the clouds don’t roll in and take over.

1. What is your best mind numbing work?

I thought that I could do some mind numbing work and let my brain relax. I started writing emails to potential clients. They were all very similar with a few tweaks.

I ended up sending out one email with the wrong name at the top. I didn’t even notice my mistake until the person emailed me back pointing this out to me. I learned to do a quick review of my mind numbing work before I turned it over to someone else.

Your mind numbing work must distract you, but not be so intensive that it takes all of your focus. Repetitive work is often the best type of work that lets your mind zone out, but still allows you to do your task.

2. When is the best time to do this mind numbing work?

You also have to know your hot spots. If you know when you do your best work, you shouldn’t be doing mind numbing work during this time. You can do the mind numbing work when your energy is lower and your mind isn’t in top form.

I like to do mind numbing work early and late in the day. I’ll do my thought intensive work between 10 – 3.

I never come up with any brilliant ideas during this time. My 10 – 3 hot spot is my time to work on those brilliant ideas to make them come to life.

3. How can you make time to do a little mind numbing work every single day?

People will tell you that you should only do work that plays to your strengths.

Nonsense!

If all you did was work that was intensive and built around your strengths you would be exhausted. Mind numbing work can actually be relaxing.

Some of my favorite mind numbing tasks:

> Organizing my files

> Reviewing finances

> Finding a cool quote for Twitter and Facebook

> Making a “To Do” List for a upcoming project

> Reviewing my outstanding invoices

> Uploading files to my website

> Backing up old data so I don’t lose it

This is the type of work that allows me to think. These tasks keep me involved in my work, but they don’t take up every ounce of my energy, which allows me to think creatively.

Your Turn

Your showering, your teeth brushing, and your organizing allow you to be in the work physically without having to mentally be there. That’s something you can’t give up.

You know the value of letting your brain relax so that it can come up with those cool ideas. So take advantage of that mind numbing work.

See that mind numbing work as an opportunity to relax your thoughts.

It has done wonders for my productivity.

How about you?

What type of things do you do to relax your brain?

How do you find a way to make these things a habit?

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If you enjoyed this post then you will probably like these too:

> Why You Must Learn to Accelerate Emotional Space

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Image courtesy of  The Advocacy Project

Comments

  1. Karl,
    I whole-heartedly agree!! The mind-numbing work can be a real break. And especially when the more mind-active work has been intensive.

    I like to organize my desk (hmmm…should probably be doing that one more often…), fill out paperwork (i.e. health forms, etc), and even just checking in with other people (coworkers, business associates, etc) for a quick hello.

    Great stuff!!

  2. The more I push to routines, autopilot, and mind-numbing work, the more I free myself up for creative or strengths-based work. They go hand-in-hand and support each other, as long as I don’t let one get in the way of the other.

  3. I needed this today. I woke up at 5:30 this morning specifically to be productive and write and, after an hour and a half, I only had about 300 words. I was just too caught up in my head to figure out what I wanted to say. I did eventually get up and go for a walk and showered and all that. And now I think I’m ready to get back to it. Hopefully you’re right….I hope the ideas start flowing now :)

  4. That is such an interesting take on the subject Karl. I never thought of it this way, as I always emphasize the power of staying conscious and doing all tasks from our highest consciousness, but there is truth indeed in just letting the mind relax a bit and wander around…

    Perhaps, we over-think other things too, giving way to too much mental fatigue, and hence feeling like we need these breaks of mind-numbing work?….

    An interesting topic to explore and dive into in more depth for sure :)

  5. Hi Karl,

    I once read this great book about writing by Ernest Hemingway. And his big thing was that sometimes you just need to walk away from your work and let your subconscious figure out the rest of the story or whatever it is that you are woking on. I thought that was genius and tried it and I swear it works.

    When we let our minds be free to roam, we are able to access some great ideas. I think that is why many people get inspired while in the shower.

  6. Mind numbing work I hate to say this but I’ve always looked at cooking this way. Something I don’t like to do but it’s necessary. I’ve been focusing on enjoying the moment when I chop vegtables and fruits. I get in tune with the color, smell and experience. I’m trying to unnumb cooking. LOL

  7. The older I get though, the more I have trouble balancing the mind numbing work. I’ll have great ideas in the shower to the point that I have no recollection of what I have and haven’t done. As a writer, I find most music to be distracting and yet the silence is deafening. Balance, balance, balance. It’s always about balance.

  8. Hello Karl!

    I am in complete agreement on this. Now, many may use different verbage to describe the concept you’ve discussed, but it is important to allow the mind to relax. As you said, a relaxed mind is a creative mind!

    I’ve read somewhere of having a “Eureka!” moment and it was the same as you’ve mentioned here. To focus on a problem intensely and after a period of time let it go. Do something (mind numbing) that allows the mind to “chill out”. During that time the subconscious is freed to work on the problem and to find a solution. When it arrives…Eureka! It’s much the same when you try to rememebr a person’s name and the harder you think on it the harder it becomes to remember. Then you just let it go and a few minutes later BAM! You get the name!

    Great Post Karl, and a great blog too!

  9. What if we called it “mind strengthening”? Because honestly, that’s how I feel. It’s work (like bills, invoices, etc) that don’t jazz me, but help me learn valuable skills that I can take anywhere!

    My best “creative” moments happen: during a walk on the beach, in the shower, and when I fold laundry. I often find myself leaving the clothes and running to my notebook to ensure I don’t forget the brilliant thoughts! :-)

  10. Hi Karl — thanks for this — I find that, when doing the more mundane tasks, I can enjoy the “flow” state I get into, because getting that sense of “melding” with or losing myself in a mundane, repetitive task is fairly easy.

  11. I’m about to take a shower right now to get things flowing! With ma lady of course…. But seriously, great post and great advice KARL!

    Another way to clear the mind is to literally clear the mind. Meditation is a great way to allow those ideas you have stored in your higher self to come out with vengeance in an state where your still enjoying the peace and tranquility of your reality!

  12. Hi Karl,

    Wow! This was thought provoking. You know, I’m going to say I like to call it something other than mind numbing… it’s actually more mind nurturing to me. To give the mind a rest while the hands and the rest of the body take over. Just like folding clothes, as Stacey said! Your body knows the drill…so your mind is free to visit more creative realms.

  13. Good post. Just because it is mind numbing doesn’t mean it can’t stimulate your mind. I agree, when I do repetitive tasks, it is still better than just watching television.

  14. Hi Lance, I need to take more time to organize my office more often, especially since it feels so good when I’m done. As for health forms that’s a tough one for me. I usually try to find someone to help me. :)

  15. Hi J.D., Exactly. When we have the routine down we can let our mind wander to more important work.

  16. Hi Chrissy, It’s hard to produce creative work right on the spot. I hope the walk and shower helped too. They usually help me. If it didn’t help then don’t worry. Sometimes the muse is just sleeping too soundly to be woken up. There is always tomorrow.

  17. Hi Evita, A relaxed mind is a creative mind. I know that I sometimes push too hard to be creative. It’s hard when I’m on a schedule. I want to get a blog post up and nothing is sparking in my brain. Sometimes the muse isn’t there and I have to do some other work. When I’m doing the easy work the pressure is off and that’s when the cool thoughts start flowing. If I can’t start writing on the spot I jot the idea down and save it for when I can write.

  18. Hi Nadia, That’s why he was an amazing writer. He never forced it. He let the natural flow of his creativity ooze out of him.

    Emotional freedom is so important. If we can create that space we have a clear path to our subconscious.

  19. Hi Tess, Relaxing with work that doesn’t stir our soul can be very freeing.

  20. Hi Audra, The busier we get the harder balance becomes. Simplifying is the key to staying productive and enjoying what we do.

  21. Hi Keith, Isn’t it funny the harder we try the more we can’t recall that name? I try to remember this when I’m forcing the issue. When I relax it’s so much easier to access my memory and be creative.

  22. Hi Stacey, Reframing how we look at something is a great skill. As long as we can find a perspective that helps us connect with the work, the more likely we can enjoy it.

  23. Hi Chris, I like how you called it the “flow state” because once we immerse ourselves in the work we get in the zone. It’s a great place to be.

  24. Hi Jonathan, Nice. Flow stats can happen within many physical activities. ;)
    I’m a big fan of meditation as well. It helps me center my focus before I start some challenging work.

  25. Hi Theresa, Muscle memory is an amazing tool. It’s easier to get into a flow state when we practice daily. It’s why I need to write every day. I don’t need to think about the process. It just happens.

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