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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less Productive?

Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less 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 Time Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Courtney Dirks via flickr.com

Reference

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on April 8, 2021

9 Strategies To Stop Putting Things Off And Start Getting Things Done

9 Strategies To Stop Putting Things Off And Start Getting Things Done

Life is exciting, and it offers many opportunities to experience moments of pure exhilaration. You’ve no doubt experienced that feeling of being in the clouds as you think about all the good things happening in your life. It’s also frustrating when things don’t work out as planned. It’s common for unexpected challenges to send our minds into a dark spiral. It feels like nothing is going right in moments of challenge, and everything around you is falling apart.

We all start each day, week, month, and year with good intentions. We know that to experience the benefits of accomplishing our goals, we have to stop putting things off. However, the daily work that it takes to achieve our major life goals is not always straightforward. It’s hard work, and for that reason, too many people settle for a “good enough” life.

The good news is that there are definite strategies you can use and mindset shifts you can make to stop putting things off, accomplish every goal you have, and live a life most people will only dream of creating.

Here are nine essential ways to accomplish your goals and stop putting off the work it takes to create a life of success and accomplishment.

1. Start With a Vision for What Accomplishment Looks Like

People often don’t accomplish their goals because they don’t have a clear picture of what success and accomplishment would mean to them. Successful goal setting starts with clarity on what you want to accomplish. Putting things off can be traced back to a lack of clear goals.

Your vision fuels your purpose and the action you take each day. To stop putting off working on your goals, take some time to get very specific about all the things you’d like to accomplish in your relationships, work, business, finances, friendships, health, and social impact.

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Creating a vision board can help because we as humans are visual by nature. That can be as simple as changing your phone screen saver to an image of what success and accomplishment mean to you. You have to know where you’re going if you hope to get there.

2. Set a Realistic Plan and Stick to It No Matter What Is Thrown at You

Being organized can be your best strategy to put off procrastination. Along with being clear about your vision for accomplishment, you should have a realistic and specific plan for how you’ll spend each day and take action. Whether it’s a once-a-week planning session or spending some time each night planning out the next day, have a roadmap that takes the stress out of what action to take and how to take it.

When you plan, you wake up with a purpose, which helps you avoid endlessly wandering through your days not knowing what you should be doing. When you have a plan, don’t let the unexpected challenges of life throw you off. Commit to following your plan and not putting things off.

3. Start Each Day With Things That Are Just for You

The needs and desires of others tend to dominate our priorities. We start our days with urgent requests and the things other people want from us. Starting your day with other people’s tasks is the quickest way to put off working on your goals.

To accomplish your goals and stop putting things off, start every day with tasks, goals, and moments that are just for you. Spend the first part of your day doing what you want to do and on the things that move you closer to your goals.

As you start your day by prioritizing yourself, you’ll accomplish more of your goals and then be able to give to others from a place of strength. Don’t put others first and end up with not enough left for yourself—that’s when you’ll put things off because you won’t have the necessary energy.

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Make yourself and your goals a priority. Your dreams, desires, and goals should have the primary position in your decision-making. What you want to accomplish is important and deserves your full attention.

4. Commit to Making Consistency Your Only Option

The best way to accomplish your goals is by embracing and committing to consistency. As you do the daily work over a period of time, you’ll take a step back and realize you’re closer than you think to accomplish your goals.

Consistency has to be your only option if you want to stop putting off all the things you know you want to accomplish. Stop looking at the complete picture of what you want to achieve because that will overwhelm you. Focus on breaking your goals into bite-sized chunks that are digestible and lead to quick wins.

5. Stabilize, Optimize, and Expand

You create success when you use the “stabilize, optimize, and expand” growth strategy.

  • “Stabilize” means you get consistent with taking action on your goals each day. You get to a place where the resistance and struggle don’t keep you from putting in the work. You build healthy habits and make this work a lifestyle shift.
  • “Optimize” means you look at your planning, daily action, your goals and see where you can optimize each part of your process. Optimization helps expedite growth as you tweak what’s working and eliminate what needs to go.
  • “Expand” means you set bigger goals and commit to accomplishing the things that feel impossible. The expand phase is when you experience exponential growth because you’re moving beyond what’s comfortable.

This simple but effective framework can give you a roadmap to accomplish more of your goals and stay off from putting off the things you want to achieve. Your goals are complex and should be treated as such. You need to evaluate and adjust.

6. Celebrate Your Progress

One of the reasons people put off working on their goals is because they never celebrate their process. You’re not a robot.

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As you experience each win—no matter the size of that win—you should celebrate the progress as if you won the Olympics. You have to be your biggest cheerleader in the journey to becoming your best you.

While most people think accomplishing their goals is the key to growth and consistency, experiencing progress is the real driver. When you make progress, you’re motivated and hungry for more. Amplify that feeling by celebrating each moment of accomplishment.

7. Add More Fun Into Your Goal-Setting

“All work and no play” makes the work feel like work. It would help if you worked hard on your goals, but hard work can be sustained for more extended periods of time when you mix fun into your schedule. You put things off when you’re not excited about what you’re doing.

To accomplish your goals, you should add hobbies and activities you enjoy into your planning. It breaks up the pressure and helps you genuinely appreciate life and its experiences. Tapping into fun is a great way to build a successful life with balance.

You can also make fun a reward for not putting things off. When you make progress, you reward yourself with pleasurable experiences. It can be a motivating prize and the inspiration you need to stop putting things off.

8. Be Intentional About Living Your Best Life

You’ll accomplish your goals and stop putting things off when you’re intentional about your decisions and are committed to living your best life. Only you know what your best life looks like and what you want to accomplish, but intentional action to get there is how you’ll make a life of accomplishment your reality.

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Putting things off happens when your plan is not built with intention. You accomplish your goals when every action you take is aligned with your values and purpose. You create a remarkable life when you make progress and consistently pursue your goals.

9. Purge Negativity in All Its Forms

One of the most commons ways people sabotage their goal accomplishment is by letting negativity creep in. This can be:[1]

  • negative people trying to convince you that your goals are impossible because those people have already settled in their lives;
  • experiences you know will frustrate you, but you do them anyway because of pressure or a sense of obligation;
  • unhealthy relationships that don’t support your efforts to create a better life and are codependent.

No matter the negativity, purging it is the best way to stay focused and motivated to continue accomplishing your goals. It can hurt to purge things and people, but it’s the best strategy to stop putting things off and achieve your goals.

Final Thoughts

Nothing stops you from setting and accomplishing your life, work, career, relationship, or business goals. It’s not easy, but it is possible with a plan and commitment to doing the work to become the strongest version of you.

The question you have to ask yourself is, what happens if you decide to keep putting things off and neglect the goals you want to accomplish?

Don’t be the person that finds out the answer to that question. Work hard and refuse to settle for a good enough life.

No matter what you’ve been through, what happened in your past, or any setbacks you’re experiencing, you can accomplish your goals and live a life full of incredible experiences. It starts right now and when you stop putting things off.

More Tips on How to Stop Putting Things Off

Featured photo credit: Magnet.me via unsplash.com

Reference

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