My "To Do" List: Yay for functional ...

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Back in May ’09, I wrote up a post on getting organized centered around one of my favorite quotes of all time “Most clutter is really decisions you haven’t made yet, and by getting current with yourself you can become more whole.” -Sunny Schlenger

One of the things I talked about in that post was the fact that things tend to pile up (literally and figuratively) because we are dreading doing them but often, when we force ourselves to do it, it isn’t nearly as bad as we built it up to be.

I know personally, this has always been a big problem for me. I get in my head that such and such a task is going to be a lot of work or unpleasant or whatever excuse I come up with and I put it off again and again until I am downright dreading it. And just about every time, when I force myself to finally do this task I have built up as a horror in my mind, it turns out to actually not be that bad.

So my plan in the New Year (not quite a resolution) is to take whatever I am dreading doing the most and do it first.

I have been doing it already since January 1st and it has actually been working really well. If I find myself thinking, “ugh” as I write something on my To Do list then I stop right then and force myself to do that item first. Not only does it mean I’ve been getting a lot of things done that have been languishing on my To Do lists for ages, it also gives me a feeling of satisfaction to finally get these things out of the way.

The advantages to this strategy are many

  • when you get that thing you’ve been dreading out of the way, it makes the rest of the day/week/month that much more pleasant
  • most of the time, it will turn out to be far less awful, much less work, and much easier than you were hyping it up to be so when you finish it, you’ll feel a bit silly for having put it off
  • the more of these dreaded tasks you manage to accomplish, the bigger feeling of accomplishment it gives you, keeping you from getting overwhelmed and frustrated
  • as you start to find that these dreaded tasks aren’t so bad, you start to stop dreading them (or at least, that’s the theory ;-))

If you don’t have the self-discipline to notice which tasks you are dreading, enlist a spouse, co-worker or family member. I told my husband about my plan and now every time I say, “I’m really dreading doing x” he says, “Well I guess that’s what you are working on next.” (With vindictive glee, I might add!) A friend or outsider will be able to tell you what you keep putting off better than you may be able to tell yourself and that can be a huge help.

I’ve found that doing what you least want to do also gets you into a better work frame of mind. If you start off your day with something you were looking forward to doing, it makes it that much harder to get to the stuff you are dreading. But if you know you have that thing you were looking forward to waiting you once you finish the annoying task, it really helps to make the work go faster.

Do you have this same problem with dreading certain tasks? How do you handle it?