How to turn your boring work into an amazing experience?

Have you ever found yourself stuck in boring work? Days are passing slow, and you just have no motivation to get up from your bed and go to the office. You find yourself daydreaming, searching the web for your next vacation or even playing an online game. The phenomenon of being bored at work, not enjoying going to the officer and finding millions of excuses to stay home is not new. I read somewhere that around 80% of working people don’t like their job and if they don’t have to do it, they would never do it. 80% of people hating what they do every day is too high of a number. But there is some good news.

Like everyone else, I was stuck in dread boring office work multiple times in my career. I was looking for ways to entertain myself in every possible creative scenario, from having super long breaks to playing every possible online game. I even got bored with the games and news of the web portals that I read every day. Time wasn’t passing fast enough, and I was stuck.

Where to start when things are not going your way anymore?

Make a decision to change the things in your favor by yourself. Get out of your comfort zone.

One day, after long waiting, I decided that I need to take things in my hands. I realized that my manager would never give me the exciting tasks that were nice to have, he needed the operational tasks done. I decided that I realized that the time to stop wasting my life in doing boring and to a significant extent unproductive tasks have come. Just typing what is asked from me to type and live from paycheck to paycheck isn’t my game anymore. I needed a change. And I knew I am that one who is going to bring that change in my work.

I was very aware that the management was really focused on finishing the operational tasks, fast. The business was waiting. So I was okay with the fact that I will have to put some extra hours in creating my own project.

Do ground research before you come up with a plan
The culture in every company is always fantastic if you are open to it.

People love to talk about their work, most of the time they will complain about it, but if you listen carefully enough, you will find the reason what bothers them.

That is why I think that these data scientists need to have some soft skills as I describe in my previous article.

I was already working for 6 months in this specific company. During those 6 months, I tried to meet many of my colleagues that I thought their work is exciting and I can learn from them.

In the beginning, it was a bit strange. According to me, people weren’t accustomed that someone from IT will just walk around the floors of the company and approach them and invite them for lunch. But after a dozen invitations people learned about my friendly and curious nature, so I had an easier time in making invitations. Still, on many occasions, I had to be patient and wait for a free spot on their agenda, or try to find understanding when they cancel on me six times.

In the end, persistence paid off.

In my research time, I managed to talk with my colleagues on different seniority levels from a different department and got really accustomed with the business plan, the business model and more importantly the problems that the business was facing.

Now, that I knew the core of the business, I knew that some exciting opportunities can be tackled and can bring the company on the next level.

The company I worked at that time was into the travel sector. They were selling airplane tickets and travel arrangements.

My professional interest was creating predictive algorithms and work with machine learning. Predictive algorithms can really give benefit to a company in the travel sector. However, in my surprise, predictive algorithms and machine learning weren’t used very much there.

Soon I would discover why.

After work hours I started working on a few project descriptions and use cases that I identified that would be valuable for the company.

I used our data to create working demos and presentations on how the project would help in the long run.

First, I presented this to my manager and his manager, they were both impressed by the ideas. They were pleased to give me permission to continue working on this project as long as I was working on in them after work hours. I was okay with it.

Pitching the projects to stakeholders
Naturally, I started talking with the managers I was close to and slowly started planting my ideas into them for bringing new projects in the company. I would ask them: What do you think if we could do this project to help you with that? Most of the times I would get a positive response, I realized later, more out of courtesy.

I realized, most of the time people want to stay in their comfort zone, protect their position and don’t accept gladly new ideas that might endanger their status or even worse, make them learn something new.
After a month from planting my ideas to different stakeholders, I arranged a meeting where I wanted to present the working demos to them.

On my big surprise, the response I got from them was unexpected. Mostly it was going in the lines of: “I love the idea, but I have more important things on my timeline.” or “I would not change things until they are bringing profit.”, “Excel gives me the forecasts I need, I don’t need anything more than that.”

Stay persistent – Don’t get discouraged easily
These responses were a shock to me, for months I listen people whining about their work, the processes, and faulty systems, but the time I came to them with working solutions, they rejected it immediately saying that they don’t need improvement nor changes.

However, I was determined to upgrade myself and my work, and there was no one stopping me.

Next destination was the 15th floor. 15th floor was reserved for C level people and high management.

I had the opportunity to meet a few of our C level people during company celebrations, and I left space for future unofficial conversation with them.

In my experience, in big companies, you can’t just schedule a meeting with C level person. Especially if you are coming from a low levels hierarchy, like me coming from IT at that time. So you need to make the meeting happen outside their office.

I already knew that the kitchen is the place where everyone must come past by at least once a day. My strategy was to prey on the C level people I had spoken to before and in an informal conversation mention them that I work on this exciting project that can help the business if it implemented.

After patient praying for a few weeks, I managed to meet the CEO of the company in the hallway on his way out. And in time of 6 minutes, the time to go from 15th floor to the parking lot and his car, I managed to tell him the most interesting facts about my projects that he invited me for an official meeting. I was thrilled, my plan was finally working.

The big meeting

After two weeks of meeting my CEO, the big meeting happened.

In those two weeks, I gave the maximum effort to make my demo the most exciting and eye-catching it can be.

The meeting was planned to be only 30 minutes, and it was about to happen not only with the CEO but with other stakeholders that he counted as critical people for the business.

After an hour and a half – one hour after the initially planned meeting, my big rally was over, and I got the attention I needed.

From the following Monday, I officially started working on my project half of the week. I got the promise that if the initial test phase is successful, I would be allowed to work on this full time and even form my own team. I was in the stars.

Not everyone is happy when you progress

My big news wasn’t accepted so gladly from some other managers. Now they started seeing me as their competition. The immediately scheduled meetings on which they tried very hard to prove that my project will fail.

These people were longer in the company, they already knew the business more than I do and their name was recognized more than mine was. All this made me sweat profoundly before and during the meetings, but also made me make sure that my demo is bulletproof and covered from every possible angle.

Nevertheless, I showed that I’m not bothered by their attitude and I kept the most friendly and professional character.

In the end, the only thing that matters is your goal

After a painful but exciting test phase, the final results were out. The predictive model turned out to be even more successful in the real world scenario, and the business owners were really pleased with the extra profit that the project brought.

Now I had the opportunity to work my dream work and never get bored from it again.

All the difficulties during the process, after work hours, unpleasant moments and failures now seemed like nothing else but a good experience, because all it matters is: I realized my plan.

 

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