“My job is very monotonous” is one of the most used sentences in today’s world. We always want to keep doing something new all the time. This craving has rendered us extremely impatient and unfocused.

The hard truth is, whether we like it or not, we will all end up doing mundane and repetitive tasks, irrespective of who we are, or what designation we hold. We are so caught up in “what we do” that we fail to recognize the importance of “how we do”.

For the human mind to function efficiently, we should find ways for our mind to relax, and reactivate. In order to do this, we should enjoy doing mundane things.

I personally love doing the laundry, as it helps me in a variety of ways:

  • It helps me focus.
  • It reiterates the fact that there are simple pleasures to be enjoyed.
  • It helps me develop a routine.
  • It helps me smile.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment, even if only one task has been completed.
  • It helps me take my mind away from work and my career.

But what is so interesting about doing the laundry? Every day, when I hang clothes out to dry, I look at each piece of cloth as a person trying to take a place in a stadium. I look at it as a seating problem.

empty stage seats
Photo by Marvin Ronsdorf

Suddenly, the entire activity is way more interesting for me. And every day, I try to seat them in different ways. This might sound extremely silly to others, but to me, it is highly beneficial, because my mind and body are in unison. Not only do I perform at my best, but I’m also very happy. (Performing at my best does not mean that I will do it better than others, it just means that I’m able to give it my best attempt, and maybe this will help me reflect on my own methods and therefore, optimize)

Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist, calls this microflow. In simple terms, flow is a highly focused mental state.

Flow, the secret to happiness | Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi | TED 2004

This extract is from a book called “Ikigai - The Japanese secret to a long and healthy life”:

“Even Bill Gates washes the dishes every night. He says he enjoys it - that it helps him relax and clear his mind, and that he tries to do it a little better each day, following an established order or set of rules he’s made for himself: plates first, forks second and so on.”

Also,

“Our ability to turn mundane tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.”

To sum it up, we all have mundane tasks to do, but instead of doing them grudgingly, we could try the following:

Focus on one task at a time
This is becoming extremely difficult in today’s world. How many of us can really claim that we have numerous periods of highly focused mental state in a day? Multitasking is overrated and ineffective.

Do that one task with utmost care
Try to do it better than yesterday, or at least, try to ensure there is no lapse in quality. Maintenance is as important as optimization

Do not underestimate the significance or complexity of that task
Understand that some tasks may not yield immediate returns, but they will be highly beneficial in the long run.

In summary, the true power of ordinary things is best expressed by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.