How to do what you don’t want to do

As much as we prefer doing things we like, our work and life aren’t utopian. We need to do tasks which sometimes feel like an uphill trek. It’s a common human experience. British journalist Shirley Conran echoed it too, when she said, “I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.” But, the sweeping is needed as well!

What in your work to-do list feels akin to sweeping under the sofa? We’ll help you check that off your list in a jiffy. Here’s how:

  1. Expand your understanding of motivation. As American football player Lou Haltz said, “It’s not the load that breaks you. It’s the way you carry it.” It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll feel excited about every task – for instance, making expense vouchers for your work travel. But, if you shift your lens to look at what personal meaning the most mundane tasks have, you’ll have less resistance. For example, you could choose to do something because it will:
  2. Lower your anxiety.
  3. Benefit your loved ones.
  4. Lead to financial gain.
  5. Avoid a negative consequence.
  6. Reduce stress.

You get the drift, right? Next time you feel stuck, complete this sentence: “I don’t want to do _______. But if I make progress on ________, then it will help me ________.”

  • Involve other people in the activity. This activates the classic dynamic of peer pressure or social acceptance. But in a positive way, by providing the right push to finish something. This could look like delegating part of the task, teaming up with someone else to complete the activity, getting accountability, or simply being present with other people who are also working – in other words, co-working. Essentially, you won’t feel lonely in your misery.
  • Layer activities or multitask. Yes, we know that multitasking is not always fruitful, but not all kinds of tasks need your 100% focus and attention. For instance, cleaning your house is much more enjoyable when you have your favorite music playing in the background. So, take stock of tasks which can be paired with other activities. Can you practice your presentation while walking in the park? Would it be better if you completed some data entry work or research at a cozy café? Take your pick. It’s all about giving yourself permission to make progress.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of strategies to get done with those draining tasks. But if you employ any of them, you’ll take a step forward, instead of wondering how you will even start. Keep us posted!

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