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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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How do you fight boredom in software development?

Our work can't all be exciting, how do you cope with the tasks that are just booorrrring?

Top comments (55)

egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

Break it down to micro-steps in my to-do list, then just throw on music and plug away!

hatlesshacker profile image
Syed Nasim

Oh my god. I scrolled down to the comments section to write the exact same thing.

wayofthepie profile image

I was thinking about this all last week. Monday I set a goal of mapping out our infrastructure to see what we could cleanup. Tuesday came and i still hadn't even logged in. Wednesday came and I thought

This is going to bore the crap out of me, but it needs doing. How can I make it exciting?

Thursday came, no bright ideas to make it exciting, so I just dove into a pomodorro session. Twenty five minutes later I had made a good start and mapped out all vms we used. Five pomodorros later, I was done! At least for that cloud provider.

It reminded me of something I learned from the Coursera "Learning how to learn" course recently, but is still not at the front of my mind:

Focus on the process, not the outcome.

Doing so in this instance I always had a quick feedback loop, every twenty five minutes, so it never felt boring. If I tried to sit down and focus solely on getting it done entirely I would have been frustrated. I do this when coding all the time, it just never occured to me to do it for other tasks!

zaerald profile image

In my case, I think of it as an input based rather than the output based, by doing an output based you're focused on how many tasks you've finished and be demotivated afterward if you didn't finish any, but by tackling the task as an input based, which time, in this case, you'll be much more motivated as you're seeing progress over the time you've worked on the task.

xowap profile image
RΓ©my πŸ€–

With interns, that's how.

More seriously, the more I move forward the more I feel that development should be layered. When you're starting out everything is new and exciting and the more you progress the more you need advanced stuff. But in the end there is not so much funky stuff out there.

So the organization I'm trying to figure right now with my company is having several layers of developers based on their experiences, the front line being juniors doing junior jobs and backed by another line of seniors that teach them how to unlock the funky stuff.

This way seniors are always busy with interesting-ish stuff and juniors are never blocked for a week on stupid stuff.

hyftar profile image
Simon Landry

While it makes a lot of sense, it could also be really beneficial for your company to share the knowledge and do pair programming with juniors.

xowap profile image
RΓ©my πŸ€–

Yeah that's basically the idea. Back-up on specific problems is done through pair programming, this way juniors are always explained the fix

jeikabu profile image

I've been a software engineer 20 years and never been "bored". If you find your work boring, that's probably because it is. Perhaps you've outgrown it and it's time to move on. If the company you work at lacks opportunities, it's probably time to move on.

All "work" involves occasionally tedious tasks: attending pointless epic meetings, filing TPS reports, etc. If it was fun all the time we'd pay to do it, and not vice-versa.

nataliedeweerd profile image
𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐚π₯𝐒𝐞 𝐝𝐞 π–πžπžπ«π

Sometimes it's nice to switch off and do a boring job XD usually whack on some comedy and blast through it mindlessly!

gwutama profile image
Galuh Utama

Procrastinate until deadline. Usually motivation comes by then.

digitalcake profile image
Josh Chernoff

A life lesson I've learned which is simply:

"If you don't like what you are doing, you are not going to do a good job"
Which I usually follow with "If you don't like what you are doing, don't do it."

I mean I trust you, but I trust me more. That feeling from If you don't like what you are doing is coming from your intuition. It's there for a reason. It's important at that moment to follow your intuition and discover the reason "why". Without the why you will fail and it says the project is not in line with your ideals. That should speak to you and you should act on that. Either, rectify your feelings and intuition with logic based on consciousness via trying to make your concessions where you can or don't be complacent and allow your life to be driven by someone else and move on. Especially if it does not fulfill your life.

You can say this comes from a place of privilege, I won't dispute that. I will say that this privilege comes from standing up for yourself. Don't believe me? Then consider this. If you are not working on your life's work, then you are working on someone else's.

xera0 profile image

I found the pomodoro technique the most efficient way to fight the boredom off as I am at the moment learning JS with a lot of frameworks and I am rocking 10-16 hours per day and I can vouch for it it helps alot

carlosiscoding profile image
Carlos Arredondo

If it's something boring then it means it doesn't require a lot of my "attention", so I throw on a podcast or a playlist and plug away.

If it's going to take a long time then I make sure to get up and walk around every 45 minutes.

gsto profile image
Glenn Stovall

I try to remind myself why I'm doing the work in the first place. But not all work is fulfilling, so when that doesn't work I try to put some kind of challenge on it.

can I improve my efficiency while working on the task? That way I can get through the boring stuff faster as well.

Can I learn some other skill on top of it? Once when I had a data entry job I spent time learning all of the shortcut keys on the computer.

If that doesn't work, I try to be mindful of how working through boredom is a mental muscle in and of itself. I'm actively learning a new skill and its how to sit with and work through boredom. Similar to how part of dieting can be learning how to sit with being hungry if that's something you aren't used to. As my old coach used to say, "get comfortable being uncomfortable."

peterwitham profile image
Peter Witham

These are the things I try to tackle first on the day, that way everything fun is something to work towards and a reward for the rest of the day. Plus this makes it more likely I'll just keep working longer on things as they become more fun.

frankfont profile image
Frank Font

Can't all be exciting? Why not? Boring is what happens when easy meets not interesting.

I try to make all the tech work interesting by sprinkling in worthwhile extra challenges or ramping up collaboration.

cakasuma profile image
Mustofa Ghaleb Amami • Edited

byyy, asking questions like this, and looking at the answers sure are fun in some ways :). -> teaching & blogging

by doing some side personal project by implementing new technologies and best practices. we can get more idea and initiatives on what can be improved when doing the real job.

aut0poietic profile image

Seems the more Sr. I get, the more many of the tasks become "boring," as you say. I call it "making license plates" (though I appropriated the phrase from Cryptonomicon).

I listen to music, put on anime/tv for background, heavily plan the effort down to the minutia. It also helps to split the day up with other devs fitting in a couple of pair sessions (teaching can be fun).

I also apparently post on DEV.

florimondmanca profile image
Florimond Manca

If it’s a mindless task, such as copy pasting a bunch of stuff with slight edits, I have a secret trick: automate it. Eg write a throwaway Python script that does the job for you. Tada! Boring text editing converted to fun Python scripting. :)