Your Guide to Starting That Task You Have Been Avoiding

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You Guide to Starting That Task You Have Been AvoidingHow’s that ‘to do’ list of yours coming along?

Pretty slow, right? It’s not surprising. Barely one in ten of us achieves everything we set out to do each day.

Sometimes it just takes one ‘iceberg’ task to sink all of your good intentions. You know the type: a task that is so big, so boring, or so challenging that you’d rather clean the office from floor to ceiling than actually get started on it.

Ultimately, you fail to reach all those more achievable tasks beyond the big one that’s sent you into a spiral of procrastination. And that just makes things worse. Your ‘to do’ list becomes more like a novel. Your stress rises. That iceberg seems even harder to pass. And as one study showed, stress and procrastination affect your mental and physical health.

But thankfully, dealing with procrastination is not a question of will-power. It’s a question of technique.

For a start, breaking that iceberg task into small, manageable chunks makes it seem a lot more achievable. Make a list or timeline so you can feel the satisfaction of ticking things off as you go, rather than waiting to tick the whole giant task from your main ‘to do’ list. Importantly, this helps you to highlight that one ‘transition point’ that will get the ball rolling. It might be as simple as picking up the phone if the task is an important call that you’ve been putting off.

You can personalize your technique, too. Motivation is different for everybody. Some have introvert energy, some are extroverts; some are night owls, some are most productive in the mornings. Arrange your schedule so your potential iceberg projects crop at appropriate moments. For example, set creative tasks for first thing in the morning if that’s when you’re most creative, and pencil in repetitive admin tasks for the post-lunch energy slump.

We’ve created a thorough guide on how to defeat procrastination and get on with tasks you’ve been avoiding. (Probably we did it because there was something more important we were supposed to be doing).

Take these ideas onboard and you’ll find it much easier to get stuck into work next time you get held up by an iceberg.

tasks you've been avoiding infographic

Sources

 

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Masicampo, E. J, Baumeister, R. F. (2011). Consider It Done! Plan Making Can Eliminate the Cognitive Effects of Unfulfilled Goals. wfu.edu

Perkins, L. (2012). How to Prioritize When Everything Is a Priority: 5 Tips. inc.com

Williams, N. (2012). Does your To Do List need a makeover? linkedin.com

Bregman, O. (2018). How to Actually Start the Task You’ve Been Avoiding. hbr.org

Mark, G. (2008). The cost of interrupted work: More speed and stress. researchgate.net

Gallo, A. (2017). What to Do When You’re Feeling Distracted at Work. hbr.org

Atkinson, B. (2017).The Most and Least Productive Hours in a Day. evernote.com

Anxiety Canada. (2019).  Tool 6: R.O.L.L with Anxious Thoughts. anxietycanada.com

UGA Today. (2014). Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces. uga.edu

Zhu, M. Yang, Y. K Hsee, C. (2018). The Mere Urgency Effect. academic.oup.com

Schwartz, T. (2010). For Real Productivity, Less is Truly More. hbr.org

Pielot, M. Church, K. De Oliveira, R. (2014). An in-situ study of mobile phone notifications. dl.acm.org

Gay, W. (2017). 5 Ways To Stop Distractions And Develop Greater Focus. forbes.com

Hedge, A. Sakr W. Agarwal, A. (2005). Thermal Effects on Office Productivity. journals.sagepub.com

Francis Cirillo. (2019). Do more and have fun with time management. rancescocirillo.com

Stead, R. Shanahan, M.J. Neufeld, R.W.J. (2009). ‘‘I’ll go to therapy, eventually”: Procrastination, stress and mental health. psychologytoday.com

Tracy, B. (2019). Practice The ABC Method Of Setting Priorities. briantracy.com

Kaufman, J. (2019). What Are ‘Most Important Tasks (MITs)’? personalmba.com

Zetlin, M. (2013). 5 Foolproof Ways to Get Through a Tough Task. inc.com

Low, K. (2018). How People With ADHD Can Get Through the To-Do List. verywellmind.com

Daskal, L. (2015). 10 Smart Tips to Prevent Distractions and Sharpen Your Focus. Inc.com

Vozza, S. (2015). 8 Ways To Improve Your Focus. fastcompany.com

Oppong, T. (2017). Working in Sprints With Regular Breaks Will Totally Transform Your Productivity. medium.com

Pillay, S. (2017). 4 Signs That Your Focus Is Holding You Back at Work. hbr.org

 

 

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Bonnie P

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Bonnie is a Chicago transplant who's committed to seeing the world on a dime. As an avid news junkie with a fascination with finance, she loves to help others do more with less.

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