We all have them -- those onerous, boring, or socially awkward tasks that haunt our to-do lists for days or weeks as we struggle to motivate ourselves to actually tackle them. Over time these dreaded items pile up, making you feel unproductive and guilty, and creating a further drain on your energy.
Isn't it time you just checked them all off already?
Of course it is, but actually accomplishing such a to-do list clean out is easier said than done. But Better Than Before author Gretchen Rubin can help. A procrastinator like the rest of us, she recently wrote on her blog about the sort unpleasant tasks she routinely puts off, as well as the lovely feeling of relief that comes when you finally conquer them. Here are a handful of the tips she offers to help you finally unclog your own to-do list:
1. Put yourself in jail.
No, don't literally lock yourself up. This one is all about mindset. "If you're working on something that's going to take a long time, and you have the urge to try to rush, or to feel impatient, pretend you're in jail. If you're in jail, you have all the time in the world. You have no reason to hurry, no reason to cut corners or to try to do too many things at once. You can slow down, concentrate. You can take the time to get every single detail right," writes Rubin.
2. Ask for help.
Obvious, right? But it's surprising how many of us struggle to simply reach out and ask for help when it would greatly improve our lives, Rubin insists.
3. Do it first.
This is also known as 'eating the frog' and is a popular piece of productivity advice. Here's how Rubin explains it: "The night before, vow to yourself to do the dreaded task. And the next day, at the first possible moment--as soon as you walk into work, or when the office opens, or whenever--just do it. Don't allow yourself to reflect or procrastinate."
4. Make a change?
Sometimes a pile-up of hated tasks is a sign you need to make a deeper change in your life. "Pay attention to the amount of time you spend working on tasks you dislike," instructs Rubin.
Some things are just an inevitable part of adulating (hello, taxes!), "but if you feel like your life consists of nothing but going from one dreaded chore to the next, you should take note. Maybe you need to think about switching jobs, or delegating a particular chore to someone else, or paying someone to take care of a task that's making you miserable."