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The Case for Boring, Mechanical Work

April 28, 2022

In my months of mentoring other designers, I’ve always heard about this one gripe: “I don’t feel challenged in my work. It’s all about taking orders, and designing UI according to what other people tell me. I want a change.”

Alternatively, it would feel like everything is actually okay, but “I am just bored. There’s nothing wrong. I want to try new things and challenges.”

It’s always nice to see that there might be an exciting, heart-pumping new adventure out there, right? Maybe you’ll join Meta, Google or Shopify and you’ll solve real world problems and be the rock star designer you always want to be… or at least, be seen as someone capable.

Some others aspire to be working for more “fast-paced" startups so that they can feel that they have more “purpose” in life.

Nothing wrong with those… but I’d also say… nothing wrong for boring, mechanical work if you have the right perspectives!

If you have a boring job, remember:

It’s a blessing to even have a job, and if that job pays you well or the teammates are all that cool, you can use the extra time or energy to do something you actually like outside of the work. Do some community work, freelance, or set up a podcast...

If you feel like you are doing something mechanical, try to use the rest of your time to level up, or do some side projects that actually develop your career. It doesn’t have to mean you have to leave the company.

Boring, mechanical work is usually built on routines. Enjoy this routine while it lasts. You can have a more predictable life, and decide what goes into your hours more flexibly. I always dedicate one or two hours for breakfast together with my wife in the morning, outside the house. I used to dedicate an hour for casual walk or cycling too. All not because I am not busy, but I find my work staged in routines and predictable cadence.

If it’s boring, it means that everything works. Nothing or much less is going awry or wrong. So, you should appreciate that. Maybe in the boring-ness you will find your passion or people will notice your dedication.

So, next time you think you have a boring and mechanical work, just think about those other designers or leaders who constantly have to stress everyday and always be on the edge. Do you really want that life?

Also on Substack

This article is also posted on Substack.

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