Turn mind-numbing, boring tasks into motivating and fulfilling ones

Stacks of old music notes - Shallow depth of field with focus on closest papers

I began “making money online” back in 2009 by writing articles for a guy who had a network of sites monetized with Adsense – a popular and profitable option at the time. But what I was doing really wasn’t writing. It was rewriting other crappy articles written by guys who were just as motivated as I was. It was mind-numbing work as each day I would have to come up with about 10,000 words on boring-ass subjects like “3 inch bamboo blinds”, “best wooden garage door” and “how to sell your settlement”. Stuff that you can’t really get excited about, not even with drugs. I got paid pennies while others were cashing in the big bucks. Yet, somehow, I stuck with it for a while and I never felt that I was slighted: I kept grinding, did the work and got paid.

It was only years later when I stumbled on NLP that I realized how exactly I was able to churn out so many useless words and nonsense sentences (hello SEOers from 2008), day-in and day-out without going nuts. Now, ideally, if you want to continue doing something, there should be some element, besides the money, that keeps you motivated. But what do you do when you don’t have the luxury of having a fulfilling job? What do you do when you would rather hang yourself than do X, Y or Z?

Introducing anchoring.

This subject has been covered in other articles on this site, but I want to give you a different, more personal take on this technique. Hopefully, you use it, get paid and get over whatever you’re stuck doing right now so that you don’t have to resort to virtual brain surgery to get the job done. However you can use this to boost both boring AND interesting tasks so don’t be shy to experiment.

Anchoring for excitement

Here’s the technique. Make sure to read at least two times through it before you begin as you will have to memorize the steps in order to follow them when your eyes are closed and you’re not reading this.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Begin to relax and focus your attention inwards.
  3. Start by imagining yourself in the future when your current work has been completed. Ask yourself: “what other, more pleasurable and interesting work could I accomplish once I’m done with the current one?” and “what ideal future will I get to once I’m finished with my current step?”
  4. Take your time. Don’t rush. Take up to 10 and even 20 minutes if you have to. Note down every possibility that gets you excited and fired-up to finish this current work. As you start sensing these powerful positive emotions well up in you, create your anchor: rub or continuously press your thumb and ring-finger together. You can also use other triggers but make sure that it’s not something that you do usually.
  5. As the feelings start peaking, release the trigger.
  6. Slowly open your eyes. Get up, walk or do something else for a while.

Before you read on, please do the exercise I just described above. It is very important for this to be done in the proper order.

Now that you’ve done this anchor/future pacing procedure, we will want to anchor a state of resourcefulness to our current process. For me, I had unknowingly anchored the sound of a certain Pomodoro timer app that I had installed. You can try to anchor the state to other cues if you want to (touching and rubbing your thumb and little finger or rubbing your earlobe for example). I also recommend the Pomodoro technique in itself as it can help quite a lot, especially if you’ve got mountains of files/data/work that you need to go through.

Anchoring for maximum efficiency and motivation

  1. Sit down in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes. Pick a memory of when you felt really motivated or really efficient at your work. Have trouble recalling a time? Make one up! Although real experiences are the best, you can also go off your imagination if you don’t immediately recall a time when things went as efficient and as motivating as they could be.
  2. Associate into the memory. When doing anchoring, you want to relieve the experience through your own eyes, not from outside. Play with submodalities as well – make the image bigger, brighter, make the colours more vivid. Recall any sounds or smells that were present.
  3. Anchor the feeling. When you start feeling the positive feelings welling up in you, use the same trigger that you used for the future excitement before. This way we are stacking anchors. Continue doing it until…
  4. It’s time to release at the peak. When you sense that the feeling has peaked, you must release the trigger.
  5. Test your anchor. Break state and go do something else for a minute or two. After that, test your newly created anchor by firing the trigger. If you have done it properly, you should feel excited and motivated about working.
  6. Repeat. An anchor becomes more powerful the more times you do it or the more memories you associate with it. You can repeat the same procedure 3 or 4 times with different memories of when you felt motivated, efficient and/or calm. The next time the anchor is fired, you will have all these powerful feelings on command.

So this is how I did it. Whenever I had to do work that I wasn’t exactly keen on doing, I would unknowingly fire an anchor that put me in a resourceful state. Future pace, see yourself move to the next step once your current work is done and then fire off your anchor before or immediately as you get to work.

That’s it. Now go and finish whatever you’ve been procrastinating on so that you can move on to better, more motivating work.

I’d love to hear your comments on how this has worked out for you.

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