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Cover image for How do you fight boredom in software development?

How do you fight boredom in software development?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

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

Discussion

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

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

Here are some personal ways to overcome boredom πŸ˜‰

  • Contribute to Open Source Projects πŸ‘»
  • Play some tunes 🎡
  • Read a book πŸ“š
  • Cook something delicious 🍝
  • Browse reddit or dev.to feed πŸ–₯️
  • Maybe learn a new skill πŸ”§

Pro Tip
Go for a walk πŸšΆβ€β™‚οΈ

 

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

 

Procrastinate until deadline. Usually motivation comes by then.

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

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."

 

Listening to music while I do it. If it's reeeeally boring and mindless then listening to a podcast or a youtube video.

 

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.

 

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.

 

It's always possible to have some boring tasks from time to time and in my opinion if it's not a usual thing then we need to accept it and to not hardly try to stop it. In fact sometimes I like it when I give my brain a break doing routine or boring tasks πŸ˜… .

 

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. :)

 

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.

 

One thing that I have heard of people doing within their company is a hackathon. Working long hours on a boring project is part of the job, but building something with your team, or smaller teams and presenting can be a refreshing break from something boring. I have friends who once every month or couple of months or at the end of their sprint, have a small hackathon. They get to learn something or apply new knowledge and hopefully have fun with it.

 

I try to squeeze value like adding automation as @mcsh has said. Side projects help too

 
 

how do you cope with the tasks that are just booorrrring?

Focus on the outcome instead of the task. If the outcome isn't motivating enough, the task may not be worth doing.

 

I have a guitar lying around that I randomly start playing when I can’t think of what I’d like to do.
Also when compiling work related Angular apps

 
  1. Never learn anything properly without having a side project or a mini project on mind. (Example if I'm trying to learn web development, i will try to make website which i plan to host). It can also be a personal application you would like for yourself
  2. Find a community, trying to find similar groups and projects
  3. In case of tasks that are boring i create a type of reward based system for myself like, doing this much then watching one episode of this TV series. Dividing the boring tasks in smaller part is very helpful
 
 
 

When it's one booring task then you just have to go through it, when there is more boring than exciting then it's time to move on.

 

When a task is boring, I tend to listen to music and allow myself to take breaks during it.

Taking breaks where I scroll through dev.to or Github for new interesting things to read ;)

 
 

like Shia LaBeouf said: just do it

 
 
 

I'm great at doing boring work. I keep saying I'll do it tomorrow.

 
 
 
 

For all the mundane work that hardly needs brainpower or focus... I just plug-in a good playlist and rock-n-roll through the task!

 

This is one my interview question..

 

Whose Line Is It Anyway on one screen, boring work on other screen

 

Techno music makes boring work bearable for me. Pump adrenaline with the help of di.fm, and I'm golden.

 

Even if the task itself is boring, it's fun to figure out how to get rid of that boredom in a technical way.

 

Side personal projects and if i don't wanna code learn deeply of business side

 

Yeah sometimes I just tinkering a bit make some "interesting" refactor, scan the codebase for unwanted code step and after that back to the boring task πŸ˜„

 

I do them first always. Then the rest.

 

Try taking little breaks to watch or do what you like to do to get out of the boredom. Once you refresh then get back to work.

 

To keep up the enthusiasm I sing whilst coding or listen to some interesting non-technical lecture on YouTube whilst doing boring tasks.

 

Bored? You can never be!
Hackerrank, editing resume, contributing to personal projects, prepare a to-do list, linkedin learning, tech twitter, dev comics