Starting That Task You’ve Been Avoiding

How’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.

My friends at Net Credit have 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.

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