So, how should we go about this? Should we ”eat the frog” and do the worst task of the day first thing in the morning, or should we start the day off with a few small and easy tasks? That is still a bone of contention. I get the question often, and there is even a book suggesting you go with the first alternative.
However, we seem to be approaching an answer to the matter. Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School did a study in which they asked 500 people to write down the tasks they wanted to accomplish throughout their day first thing in the morning for two weeks, and then tick them off as they completed them during the day.
More motivated and more accomplished
It turned out that the test subjects who were in the habit of completing a few small, quick and simple tasks before getting to the more challenging and extensive ones, felt more motivated than the rest, and were also the ones who felt they had gotten the most done during their work week.
The study is not published yet, but according to the researchers it indicates that if we do a few smaller tasks first thing in the morning, our brain releases a rush of dopamine as a reward which creates a feedback loop that makes us more motivated to continue with the more demanding tasks.
I would say it is well worth a try, if you have not tried it already.
If you want to see for yourself if this approach would make any difference to your workday, try starting your days for the next week ahead with completing two-three of the smallest tasks on your to-do-list.
I have added a third step to my morning routine that reminds me to get these small tasks done first to ”kick-start” my day.
When the week is coming to a close, look back at how the past days have turned out and evaluate if the tip got you going faster in the mornings, and if the difference was enough for you to continue with the method.
Getting difficult tasks done easier
If Gino’s and Staat’s conclusions are accurate, it will be easier to get those demanding, complicated tasks we tend to procrastinate done if we begin by doing a few simple tasks before getting to the big ones. We will end up with fewer things hanging over us, and get more things done with greater ease.
How do you get things done?
How do you ideally start your day? What do you do first thing in the morning that sets the tone for the rest of the day? Feel free to share in a comment.