The other day I found myself on the floor in the fetal position wailing “BEING AN ADULT IS HARD!” while my whole family laughed at me. This is a true story. I am very good at being productive and ticking things off my list (oh, how I love a list), but when asked to do things that are outside of my comfort zone (taxes! legal forms! anything involving technology! HELP!), I tend to find myself experiencing the potent combo of panic and paralysis. Then it’s hello floor.
Luckily, I never stay in the fetal position for long, because out of necessity I’ve had to figure out some strategies that help get me quickly move from overwhelm into action.
Read on for my best tips on how to tackle those dreaded tasks you’ve been hiding from.
Do it First Thing
Life can be tiring with all of the things, and resistance to facing a dreaded task will likely increase as the day goes on. If you want to knock out a task, phone call, or errand you’ve been putting off, do it first thing in the morning (or as early as you don’t feel like calling would be rude), then spend the rest of the day patting yourself on the back for your bravery and valor. You did a hard thing!
Try a 15-Minute Win
I discovered my #15minwin productivity hack when I was struggling to write a keynote speech for a large gathering. When I thought about it, I figured out that I could do just about anything for fifteen minutes, so I challenged myself to set a timer and write. Turned out that starting was the hardest part, and once I got going, I was off to the races. If you’re facing a dreaded task, or a project that feels too overwhelming to even start, clear away all of the distractions, turn off your phone, and set a timer for fifteen minutes – then get ready to watch the magic unfold.
Enlist a Friend
Dreaded tasks are better with company. Enlist a fun friend, or pile the whole family in the car to keep you company as you pop out to drop off the library books, return unfortunate purchases, drop dry cleaning, etc. Look what happened – your dreaded chores just became quality time!
Focus on the Finish Line
Sometimes it helps to pause and take a moment to visualize how good it will feel to be done. The rare bird actually enjoys preparing their taxes or getting pushing through a laundry list of chores, but the intoxicating feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and relief you’ll experience once you take care of business should be a solid motivator.
Try a Get-it-Done-Day
Most of us don’t have the luxury of taking days or weeks off to get on top of our lives, but even if you can find a single day, or half day, to block off, you’ll be shocked at how much you can accomplish. I like batching my dreaded tasks into a single afternoon. Last week I hit the DMV, the bank, the textile recycling center, and the shoe repair shop all in one outing. All told it only took a few hours, but the feeling knocking off so many dreaded tasks in one go was glorious!
Add a Reward
Identify something you really enjoy and pair it with your dreaded task, or dangle the treat as a reward for once you finish. I always like adding music or podcasts in the background while I toil, and a scoop or three of ice cream is my customary way of sweetening the deal – literally.
What methods do you use to get yourself to face down your most unpleasant tasks?
Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson