If you’ve ever wanted a new challenge to keep your administrative job from feeling “same old, same old,” consider how Catherine Russell must feel. She has played the same role—psychiatrist Margaret Brent—in an off-Broadway play called “Perfect Crime” for 25 years.
Her friends ask her, “How do you do that every night? Doesn’t it get boring?” “Never,” she says.
She offers good advice for staving off the feeling that your work is repetitive:
• Seek out little ways to add variety. Russell does things to tweak each performance, so it’s more interesting for her and the audience. “There are hundreds of ways to say ‘I love you,’” she says, “and I have tried them all.” Heard of those cops who dance while gesturing to traffic? Same idea.
• Appreciate the growth that comes from experience. With repetition comes expertise. “I like to think that I’m a better actress after playing the role all these years, and I hope that I bring maturity to the role now,” Russell says.
Every time you do a task, you’re getting better at it.
• Find the hidden virtue of busywork. We all have to do “mindless” tasks occasionally. But most of those tasks come with a silver lining. Some people find, for example, that knocking out repetitive work feels comforting or helps them clear their minds.
Rather than seeing the downside of a repetitive job, Russell has embraced the positives. She feels grateful for the stability. “I crave constancy in a field that doesn’t have a lot of security,” she says.
“Doing the same thing over and over gives me pleasure.”
— Adapted from “One Role, With 10,000 Variations,” Catherine Russell, The New York Times.