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Productivity
Published: June 29, 2017

How to Do What You Don't Want to Do (but Have to Do Anyway)

Do you feel like your chores are piling up around you? Whether you’re inundated with housework, or you have a growing list of nagging tasks to complete at work, you are probably overwhelmed and frustrated. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all balked at completing these menial jobs.

As much as we’d rather go on an adventure or tackle that exciting work project, everybody has to spend time doing things they don’t enjoy. Your productivity and happiness is at stake if you can’t clear minor tasks out of the way. Most of these jobs take no longer than a few minutes to complete, but they can compound into a mountain of work if left unattended. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Every exciting work includes some tedious tasks, it’s inevitable.

Regardless of how your chores make you feel, you still have to do them. Having a negative view of your duties sets you up for failure. Instead of thinking of them with disdain, turn to them with gratitude. Even the most exciting assignments at work come with a certain amount of administrative baggage.

Know that hacking through the red tape, filling out the forms, and answering your emails is just a means to get to the work that you enjoy. Envision how much more productive, healthy, and happy you will be if you keep up with your chores.

To accomplish things you don’t feel like doing, plan your tasks with strategies.

Balance your day.

Use the Pomodoro technique to maximize your time without burning yourself out. Start by establishing your to-do list and grouping similar items on your list. Then, work for a solid 25 minutes on your first task or set of tasks. Take five minutes to recharge your batteries, and repeat the pattern. After you have worked for four 25-minute intervals, take a 20-minute break.1 By working this way, you spend about 75% of your time on task and 25% at rest.

Make routine tasks automatic.

Forwarding your emails to a single address can keep you from having to open several email services. Most email services also give you the option to set up filters to automatically sort your messages. If you generate the same types of documents or messages over and over, come up with a standard template. You can still customize your work, but it is a lot easier to change a few details in your message than it is to reinvent the wheel every day. Automating processes such as paying your bills and refilling your prescriptions means that you won’t have to spend your lunch break doing tedious tasks.2

Make chores part of your schedule.

Block out time for them the same way you set aside time for appointments. Incorporate practices like the “One Touch Rule” to save time.3 This rule requires you to take care of items right away so that you only handle them one time. For example, instead of throwing junk mail into a pile on your desk, throw it in the trash right away.

Do the things that require the most effort first.

Knock out your most challenging work early in the day. These might be things that require the greatest amount of creativity, or they could be the chores that you hate doing the most. You are less likely to experience decision fatigue4 early in the day, and your levels of self-control will be higher.5 You don’t want to spend all day dreading a task and then be too exhausted to complete it.

Complete tasks in batches.

When you tackle similar and related tasks in the same block of time, you will be able to complete them more quickly. Have a portion of your day set up specifically for making phone calls or completing orders. Designate times to check your email, and silence unnecessary notifications. Multitasking is rarely as effective as sustained focus on a single task.6

Turn completing chores into a game and reward yourself.

Think about things that make you happy and try to connect your chores to them. If it’s a vacation that you crave, agree to put a few dollars in the travel fund for each day that you clear all the items out of your incoming and outgoing files. You not only get the benefit of thinking about that vacation, but you also turn completing your chores into a game.7

Ask for help when necessary.

Depending on your position, you may be able to get some additional help with those chores. It is often less expensive to enlist an experienced helper than it is to waste valuable time trying to teach yourself how to do everything well.8 Even if you don’t have the power to hire an assistant, you can still have an honest discussion with your manager or coworkers if your workload is untenable.

If you want to make your chores more manageable, keep up with them.

Edward Young once said,

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Putting off chores today only compounds the amount of time you’ll need to spend on them later. When you approach menial tasks with a positive attitude and complete your chores efficiently, you’ll have more time to enjoy the things you love.

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