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15 Nov

How long does the difficult thing actually take?

Datum: 2017-11-15 06:40

There are sim­ple or fun tasks we race to the desk to get done as soon as they land on it, and then there are their oppo­sites — the tasks we find incred­i­bly bor­ing or that we are reluc­tant to do since they feel so dif­fi­cult and over­whelm­ing (every time… these tend to be tasks we have to do on a reg­u­lar basis).

The step between the moment we recall that we should” do the task, to actu­al­ly get­ting it done feels like an enor­mous one to take, and the thresh­old for get­ting start­ed so high — so we are prob­a­bly bet­ter off start­ing with some­thing short and sweet first, right?

Our mind wan­ders fur­ther than we actu­al­ly go
But many of the tasks that we for some rea­son resent are often not that exten­sive. We tend to spend more time wor­ry­ing and think­ing about them than it takes to actu­al­ly com­plete them.

They might feel insur­mount­able, but how big are they real­ly? If we find that out and real­ize that it only takes say 2 min­utes and 24 sec­onds of work (per­haps tedious work, but you can’t com­plain about the dura­tion of it), we are more like­ly to just take a deep breath and get it over with.

Do this
If you have some recur­ring task that you find awful every time you have to do it, and which you there­fore tend to pro­cras­ti­nate for as long as you pos­si­bly can, then try this sim­ple trick:

  1. The next time you have to do the task and feel tempt­ed to post­pone it, do it any­way but time your­self while doing it — so that you at least know how long the tedious task takes to complete.

  2. So, how long did it take?
    • Less than you thought? Notice how know­ing how much time you need to spend on this task makes you feel and influ­ences your propen­si­ty to get start­ed soon­er the next time you have to get it done.
    • Longer than you thought? Then I under­stand that you want to do oth­er things instead. Per­haps you can split it into sev­er­al small­er tasks, thus mak­ing it eas­i­er to get start­ed, and so that you get to tick more items off your to-do-list (which is at least a small incen­tive to get it done, don’t your think?)

Works for me, and might work for you as well
I have not found any evi­dence-based research sup­port­ing my claim that this time-tak­ing method helps us get things done, but it has helped me and oth­ers I have worked with in pick­les like these. Per­haps it will help you move along with the bor­ing stuff as well? You can always afford giv­ing it a go, and the only thing you need is some kind of time­keep­ing func­tion, which you will prob­a­bly find on your phone.

What’s your way?
What is your trick to get­ting over the reluc­tance and resis­tance you feel towards things you need to get done but do not want to do? If you have a trick or tip up your sleeve that helps you, feel free to share in a comment.