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How To Do What You Don’t Want To Do

How To Do What You Don’t Want To Do

We all have to do things in life we don’t want to do. For me, it’s laundry, cooking and exercising. For others, it’s something else. Some of these things we need to do on a daily basis, while others are more long-term goals. In a world where every person seems to be a procrastinator, how do you find the willpower to do those dreaded activities in your life? Here are 10 tips to help you do what you don’t want to:

1. Make a decision to grow by facing your fear.

Not all of the things you need to accomplish are based in fear (think cooking, laundry). But many of them are. What if you have to give a big presentation but you feel like you’d rather put a bullet in your brain than speak in front of a group? Many of the things you need to do can lead to self-growth. Facing your fears head-on will make you a better person. And remember, the more you do something, the easier it gets. But you have to stop putting it off and just do it.

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2. Remember how it affects you in the long run.

Let’s say you know you need to eat healthier and exercise (don’t we all?). Procrastinating is only hurting you. The longer you wait, the more your body will deteriorate. It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone, but some of the time, your comfort zone has negative consequences for your future. So the trick is to think long-term. Think about how your actions (or inaction) today will be affecting your tomorrow or 10-20 years from now.

3. Realize it might affect other people.

Maybe your spouse has been asking you to clean up your huge pile of junk in the kitchen for a long time. And the reason the junk pile is there is because you hate dealing with the details of paper, mail and all the other random stuff that has collected in that spot. Putting off cleaning is probably creating resentment toward you from your spouse. Not only is your inaction affecting him/her, but also the overall quality of your relationship. So suck it up and do what you need to do – if not for you, then for someone you love.

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4. Break it down into smaller steps.

Sometimes the tasks you need to accomplish seem so daunting and overwhelming you don’t know where to begin. So what happens? You do nothing. And accomplish nothing, too. Before I started my Ph.D. program, the thought of writing a dissertation that was several hundred pages long seemed like an impossibility. But once I reframed it and thought of it as several shorter “papers” put together, then it didn’t seem so bad. Breaking it down into smaller tasks helps immensely.

5. Don’t do it all at once.

If you need to clean that junk pile, don’t feel like it all has to be done in one sitting. Any effort toward your end goal is progress. Even if you’re pursuing a degree or doing your taxes, any small effort counts. And if you’re like me, it helps to not have to do it all at once. So give your self permission to take the time to get the job done. But you have to stick with it – don’t forget about it and give up. And you also can’t leave it until the last minute because then you will have no choice but to do it all at once.

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6. Prioritize steps.

Once you have the small steps mapped out, rank order them on what is most important. Start with that. What is the most immediate need? What is the least? Maybe you’ve been putting off paying your bills (that’s a dangerous one), but if that sounds like you, make sure you first pay the ones due soon. As obvious as it sounds, many people don’t prioritize like that. Even if it’s cleaning your house you are procrastinating about, start with the room you think is the dirtiest.

7. Put the steps on a calendar.

I am addicted to my calendar. Without it, I would accomplish nothing. But I do know people who don’t keep a calendar. If that’s you, then get a calendar. Heck, most smart phones these days have calendars on there for you. Put your tasks down on particular days. So when you get up that morning and look at what you have to do that day, you will see your tasks and will be more likely to accomplish them because it’s on your daily to-do list.

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8. Remember the end result.

Some goals don’t show results quickly. Those are the most difficult ones to start. If you need to lose 50 pounds (or more), you’re probably not going to see the scale move a whole lot for the first week or two. So it’s easy to become discouraged when you are not seeing the results of your efforts. But stick with it. Remember how great it will feel once you accomplish your goal.

9. Discover an appreciation for what you have to do.

If you’re grumbling about cleaning your house, doing your laundry, paying your bills, or cooking, remember how lucky you are to have a house, clothes, food and money to pay for it all. Not every activity you do is fun, but you can always find some appreciation in whatever you need to do.

10. Reward yourself.

Grab a hot fudge sundae or treat yourself to a long, hot bath and some wine when you’re done! It’s okay to spoil yourself. And when you decide to reward yourself after you have accomplished what you don’t want to do, it will serve as more of an incentive to get it done!

Doing what you need to do doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. If you follow these 10 steps, you’ll have your goal finished in no time!

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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