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15 Nov

How long does the difficult thing actually take?


Date: 2017-11-15 06:40 Comments: 0 st

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. 

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