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Putting Things Off Because They’re Hard Or Boring? Try This Approach To Stop Procrastination

Putting Things Off Because They’re Hard Or Boring? Try This Approach To Stop Procrastination

Procrastination is a big problem for many of us. Chances are that we do not do those unpleasant tasks because they are, well, admit it, unpleasant. We don’t start new, positive habits because (*drumroll*) we really don’t want to. The New Year’s resolution sounded good.  It even still is a good idea.  But the real question is, will we ever do it?

If you want to actually do those things you have been putting off, try this approach:

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If-Then Planning

Use the “if-then” planning method if you’re putting something off because it’s hard, boring or unpleasant. Making an if-then plan is more than just deciding what specific steps you need to take to complete a project–it’s also deciding where and when you will take them. By deciding in advance exactly what you’re going to do, and when and where you’re going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes.

The investment will actually take place when you say, “If dinner is cooked, then I will start exercising as I planned to do.” The moment you decide to clean the garage at 3 p.m. on Saturday, stick to your word and do it. “If it does not rain on Saturday at 3 p.m., then I will clean the garage.” No second guessing yourself. That leads to procrastination. Make that a thing of the past.

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Boring Tasks

Willpower alone can only take us so far. What if the will is not entertained or motivated enough to complete a task? Then, the task is left undone. Using the “if-then” planning method to tackle boring tasks is effective because no motivation, willpower or self-control is necessary. The main focus on this approach is that if a certain event takes place, you will respond in a specific manner.

Unpleasant Tasks

If my children do not clean their rooms by 4 p.m., then I will take away their favorite toys.

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No argument necessary. The “if-then” approach is specific, decisive and clear. It does not leave wiggle room for compromise or procrastination. The approach is predicated on a specific action and a response to that action. It does not matter if the task is unpleasant, boring or difficult. You are accountable to the response once the action takes place.

Making a decision in advance to follow through on a specific course of action, and then sticking to your decision when specific events unfold, leaves you with a choice. Either you stick to your word and commit to follow through, or you can revert back to old behavior and procrastinate.

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Summary

Achieving our personal best is a good goal. It is even one that can be achieved if we are willing to live accountable to ourselves.  In addition, a commitment to leaving procrastination behind is worth the investment in ourselves of both time and energy. Pondering why you decided to pursue the goal is one reason to start anew. But the biggest payoff is knowing you had the courage to change the only thing you can change in life—which is you.

Featured photo credit: Martina Misar-Tummeltshammer via unsplash.com

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Michelle Owens

Freelance Writer/Editor

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

Easy Tasks or Difficult Tasks First? Which One is More Productive?

Procrastination is probably the biggest detriment to our productivity. Conventional wisdom dictates that the best thing you can do is make that procrastination constructive. When you don’t feel like doing one task, usually one that requires a lot of will- or brainpower, you do another, usually less labor-intensive task.

Recently, though, conventional wisdom has been challenged with something Penn State refers to as “pre-crastination.”[1] After doing a series of studies in which students pick up and carry one of two buckets, researchers theorized that many people prefer to take care of difficult tasks sooner rather than later. That theory poses the question of whether this pre-crastination or the more widely acknowledged constructive procrastination is more effective.

Here is a look at whether people should do difficult tasks early or later on to achieve maximum productivity.

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Doing Easy Tasks First

The Pros

One of the hardest parts of working is just getting started. Constructive procrastination eases this hardship, because working on easy tasks requires a smaller mental or physical commitment than if you tackled difficult tasks firsts.

If one of the foremost deterrents to your productivity is simply getting going, it makes a lot of sense to save the difficult tasks for when you’re in more of a groove.

The Cons

If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day. — Mark Twain

On the surface, there don’t seem to necessarily be any disadvantages to doing easy tasks first. However, in Eat That Frog, the book writeen by Brian Tracy challenges that.

Based on the above quote from Mark Twain, Eat That Frog encourages avoiding procrastination, even if that procrastination is constructive. Tracy wants you to “eat that frog,” i.e. do your difficult tasks quickly because the longer it’s on your plate, the harder it will become to do the thing you’re dreading. If you have a habit of dreading things, Eat That Frog makes a solid argument to hold off on your easy tasks until later in the day.

Doing Difficult Tasks First

The Pros

Brian Tracy postulates in Eat That Frog that if you do your difficult tasks first, your other tasks won’t seem so bad. After all, after you eat a frog, even something unappetizing will seem downright delectable.

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Tracy also recommends that, if you have to eat two frogs, you should eat the uglier one first. The metaphor is a very easy way to get your head around the new concept of pre-crastination.

If all of your tasks seem somewhat torturous to you, you might be able to ease the pain by getting rid of the ugliest “toads” as quickly as you can.

The Cons

The primary disadvantage of doing your difficult tasks first is probably that it will make it especially hard to get started on your workday.

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A lot of people aren’t exactly at their peak performance mode when they enter the office. They need to ease into the workday, maybe have a cup or two of coffee to stimulate them.

If that’s you, doing your most difficult tasks first would probably be a costly mistake. Hold off on “eating those frogs” until you have the willpower and fortitude to choke them down.

Conclusion

Should you do easy or difficult tasks first? It seems like a cop-out to say that it depends on the person, but sometimes that’s the honest answer, and that is definitely the case here.

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Hopefully this article helps inform you of what type of worker you are, offering clues to whether you fall into the constructive procrastination or pre-crastination camps. Good luck on your pursuit of maximum productivity!

More Tips for Beating Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Courtney Dirks via flickr.com

Reference

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