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Learn about a topic you hate

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For us personally at Administrative Professional Today, that topic is algebra. Gag! But just for argument’s sake, how would we face it if we had to? After all, the working life is full of tasks and topics we would never normally touch with a 10-foot pole.

When confronted with such an onerous subject, take these routes:

Find a reason to learn it. If it will help your career or improve your workday, you should have some motivation to tackle the subject. Think about the positive outcome to make yourself want to learn.

Beat procrastination by rewarding yourself. Turn off all distractions, set a timer for 25 minutes and focus your brain on studying the topic. After the 25 minutes, give yourself a five-minute reward like music, snacks or conversation.

Remember that you might not understand it the first time. Give yourself a break after your first go-round. If you didn’t understand the material, let yourself relax before tackling it again. It’s normal not to get something the first time.

Practice daily until you master one chunk. Choose a specific problem or topic to focus on and work at it until you master it. If you’re trying to learn all the songs in a songbook, for example, you start with one—you sing the one song repeatedly until you get it right, then you can move on to the next song.

— Adapted from “How to Get Excited About Topics That Bore You,” Barbara Oakley, Harvard Business Review.

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