We tend to lose interest in things when we do them over and over again, even if they’re activities we enjoy. But this simple mental trick can make you less bored when you’re doing something for what feels like the 100th time.
Over at NPR, Shankar Vedantam talks about some experiments conducted by Julio Sevilla, the marketing professor at the University of Georgia. Sevilla’s research suggests that boredom, particularly with repetitive tasks, is all a matter of satiation in your mind. When you believe what you’re doing in the present is going to be the same as something in the future, you satiate or “have your fill” more quickly, making you feel bored in the here and now. For example, reading the same bedtime story to your kid over and over can get boring because you already know it inside out and assume you’ll have to read it to them again later.
But, as Vedantam explains, if you imagine that you’re going to experience something different in the future, you’ll feel less satiated with what you’re doing in the present. If we go back to the reading example, imagining your kid will want a different story tomorrow night will make reading the same story less boring tonight. Basically, try to picture variety in the future and you might be more content with doing monotonous things in the present.