Two Ways to Help Yourself Care about Doing an Unwanted Task
Doing things to help yourself care about your procrastinated task is the key to making it more enjoyable and more likely to get done. The only requirement is that we WANT to want to like it.
This post and the next few blogs will explore aspects of helping yourself care about tasks that you initially don’t like and don’t want to do, eg, writing your dissertation, cleaning out that closet, mowing the yard, or doing assigned homework.
There are two fundamental perspectives that can help us care. We can focus on the process of doing the task and/or focus on the outcome.
Counter-intuitively, directing 100% of your attention to your task, even if you initially find it boring, can open your eyes to interesting aspects you may have overlooked. As a photographer, I’ve found that while a certain scene I’m photographing may be ho hum, when I focus in on the details, astounding beauty is revealed.
Not all parts of the tasks I’m likely to procrastinate are odious. Looking for things I enjoy within the task and keeping those in mind as I go about it make it go by more quickly. During closet cleaning, I enjoy finding things I’d forgotten I have and putting the things I’m keeping back into their own space. Being able to look forward to these aspects of the job helps me get started.
Mundane chores such as cleaning the floors or mowing the lawn can benefit by being seen as an art. During my elementary school days, writing sentences was a common punishment. I spent a lot of days writing I will not talk in class 500 times. Out of boredom, I decided to fit all of the sentences on the front side of one piece of paper, written so small that it took a magnifying glass to read them clearly. This turned my punishment into an artistic challenge.
Some kinds of tasks lend themselves to being turned into a game. Setting a timer to see how quickly the dishes can get washed, my desk cleared, the filing done, etc. helps to focus on the way I go about my task, helping it get done more efficiently. As with games, I give myself points for doing the tasks within a set amount of time and rewards after a certain number of points. Take a break and savor those rewards.
Break up large tasks into smaller parts, setting goals and rewards for those within your larger goals. You can reward yourself after a certain amount of homework is done, paragraphs written, emails deleted, cold calls made and more. Be sure to set a time limit using your timer for those rewards.
When helping yourself care about the outcome of your task consider these:
- The people (including yourself) who will be proud,
- The new opportunities that will result,
- The ability to embark on something else that you naturally care about,
- Satisfaction from a job completed.
Looking at your task from both the macro and micro perspectives can make it more enjoyable. Next week’s post will be Five Steps to Help Yourself Care. Check back, and if you haven’t already, like my Facebook page, Change Your World Courses, where you will find more productivity tips daily.