When I first studied in a teaching composition program, the faculty emphasized that we needed to create assignments that we would actually like (or at least not hate) grading. And I try to do that in my classes.
The thing is, after the first 7 or 12 or 25 papers (or any sort of assignment, really), grading becomes progressively more difficult, harder to make myself do. And that's when I give assignments I've created carefully with an eye to not being tortured.
In our writing courses, we're pretty much expected to follow a course plan and give assignments that are pretty similar and based on the course plan. And that means to me, they're boring as hell. It's not a matter of grading 7 before I'm bored, it's facing grading the first.
And the boredom isn't the boredom of, say, weeding, or riding my bike for a couple of hours. It's longer, for one thing. And I have to pay a lot closer attention. When I'm riding my bike, I have to pay attention, of course. I look at the road ahead and make sure I ride safely. I listen for cars or other bikers and such to make sure I know where they are and can try not to create problems. But I can also sing to my bike, ponder questions, do short bursts of higher energy riding, and so forth. And the whole time, I'm outside, and usually (since I'm a fair weather biker) enjoying some fresh air, nice scenery, and so on.
When I'm grading, I have to pay pretty close attention to what I'm doing in order to try to figure out what and how to communicate to the student to help them understand how they've done on the assignment and (hopefully), to help them do better in the future.
I know I'm not the only one who finds grading difficult. Friends of mine do complex reward systems: grade so many of these, get some reward. And so on.
People develop grading rubrics in hopes that they can put a few checks or circles on a piece of paper and satisfy students that the assignment has been evaluated fairly and that they know why they got the grade they did and how to do better in the future.
What do you do?