Personal Productivity

6 Tips for Dealing with Tasks You Don’t Feel like Doing

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez Tags Motivation Focus Advice
"Deal with difficult tasks while they are easy. Act on large issues while they are small." ~ Lao Tzu

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Dealing with unpleasant tasks

We all have tasks in our Next Actions list that we are reluctant to do and tend to procrastinate or leave for another day.

The reasons behind this unwillingness to do things are varied. They are usually complex, boring, stressful or simply unpleasant tasks, such as calling that person we dislike talking to, ironing the clothes or doing the tax return.

So we tend to look past them and move on to the next thing on the list without even realizing it. Or worse, we look for a distraction that allows us to avoid what we don’t want to do.

Until that thing we should have done, but never feel like doing, starts to cause problems.

How can you tackle these tasks you don’t like doing, before they become a problem? Here are a few ideas that might help:

  1. Think about why you should do this task. I don’t mean obvious reasons like “because it’s on my list,” “because I’m getting paid for it,” etc. What goal helps you accomplish this task? Who are you helping by doing this? Look for a higher motivation that counteracts the negative part of the work itself.
  2. Eliminate fear. If it’s something unfamiliar or something you anticipate will be very complicated, take the time to think it through and dig deeper. Describe the task in a clear and very concrete way. Define the actions that will be necessary to reach the result. If you have a clearly defined plan of action, initial resistance will diminish.
  3. Do this type of task as soon as possible, at the beginning of the day. Take advantage of the time when you have the most energy. Also, if you do the tasks you dislike the most first, there is a curious motivating effect, as the tasks ahead become more and more interesting.
  4. Force yourself to work on it for only 5 minutes. Get on with it and do anything. Taking the first step is another way to eliminate fear and remove the resistance that leads you to always procrastinate that task.
  5. Accompany a task you don’t like with other things you enjoy. For example, I accompany “housework” with good music. I get carried away by the music and forget what I’m doing. Or I go with my laptop to a coffee shop that I love to do work that bores me terribly.
  6. If there isn’t intrinsic motivation, turn to extrinsic motivation: Plan a reward for when you finish the task, or a major milestone if it’s a big task.

And you, how do you deal daily with the tasks you dislike the most?

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Francisco Sáez
@franciscojsaez

Francisco is the founder and CEO of FacileThings. He is also a Software Engineer who is passionate about personal productivity and the GTD philosophy as a means to a better life.

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