It’s true, there’s nothing better than that sense of accomplishment when you finally give that big presentation you’ve been working on for weeks, or when you figure out a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing your department for months. It’s these taxing and brain-stretching challenges that make our jobs worthwhile and meaningful, but there’s another side to most jobs as well - and that’s busywork.
You know the busywork you need to do, like organizing your files, filling in a spreadsheet, or sorting through your emails? We all have work on the job which doesn’t take up much mental energy but still needs to get done anyway. And what’s funny is many of us claim to not like busywork, but is that really true? We say we prefer those challenging projects and times, but research seems to paint a different portrait.
A study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, and presented at the South by Southwest panel on workplace distraction, found employees were actually HAPPIEST when performing these routine tasks. How is that possible? Why is busywork secretly so enjoyable? Well, here’s the answer: Completing busywork gives you a feeling of accomplishment without the corresponding stress which comes along with more challenging tasks.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed in the office, take some time to accomplish some of that busywork you’ve been meaning to do for ages. Clean out your inbox. Clean your desk. Get rid of that stack of papers that has been on your desk for six months. When you do this, chances are you may just find it enjoyable. It’s Science!