March 13, 2012

Completing boring tasks with a smile

An intern's life is hardly glamorous. In some cases, you can expect to be kept busy and on your feet making coffee runs, gathering lunch orders, and darting from meeting to meeting where you feverishly take notes and try to take it all in. On the other side of the spectrum, are internships that will have you sitting at the desk and completing organizational tasks that are tedious and dreadfully boring. Since the busy scenario should keep you on your toes well enough on its own, I'm going to focus on the slower-paced internship. No matter what position you obtain in your career, there are always going to be tasks that you'd rather not do but they have to get done. The lower you are on the totem pole, the more likely these tasks may come your way. But no matter how monotonous or uninteresting these tasks may be, it's important not to look bored while you're doing this. It's sadly easy to do. If you're like me, your "neutral" face might just have the appearance of looking bored (slightly sad even). It's not necessarily a true reflection of how you're feeling; it just means you're putting more energy into your work than your face or you've run into a problem that needs to be mentally worked out outside of the physical plane (If you didn't understand that, it's ok. You probably don't have that problem then). So, I'm sorry to say but if that describes you then you have to work even harder to appear more attentive. (Me too! I'm still working on that!).

Chances are, your manager is well aware that the tasks he/she is handing to your are terribly boring so you may get some sympathy there. On the other hand, the work needs to be done and his/her plate is probably full with its own work load and you're the intern so.. best hop to it! Try to remain present and alert while you get the work done. Looking uninterested in the work could come across as being uninterested or even unappreciative of your job position. To avoid that, I've compiled a list of tips to help you feel a bit more bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Take a 5 - Don't do it so often or for so long that you come across as a slacker but taking a moment to get up, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom, etc, can be quite helpful refresh you mind a bit.

  • Bring snacks - Energy pill commercials sometimes talk about that "2pm feeling" when we all just want to take a nap (And I've read other articles supporting the idea that humans are meant to take midday naps) but you can give yourself a quick pick-me-up with some energizing foods. Skip the coffee or sugary foods, which can cause you to feel worse later when the caffeine/sugar crash comes. Have some fruit and/or nuts on hand. These are healthier alternatives that won't give you that crash effect.
  • Get the work done - Focus on completing your task efficiently and flawlessly (as much as possible). If it's boring, it's probably also relatively easy and simple so handing in work that took you forever to do and is covered in errors will show that you're incapable of doing that task well and you can bet that your next one will be even more ho hum. So do yourself a favor and get this done quickly and well.
  • Show active interest when speaking to others - If you can't keep from looking bored in front of the computer, at least look interested while talking to your manager and coworkers. Keep your head up and focused on the person you're talking to. If you know you have a natural tendency to look bored, make an effort to widen your eyes a bit more and smile. Nod your head to show your understanding and repeat directions to show that you're paying attention.

That's all I've got for now. Good luck! :)

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