Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to do what you don't want to do

No cat wants to get wet, but in the end, when you got to get something done, then you get it done.
But how about doing things that you have to do but don't want to do?
For these types of tasks, I use a mental trick that has helped many, many times.
The trick is this: Put something on your to-do list that you prefer to do even less than what you need to get done. In other words, find a task you do want to do, but perhaps it takes even more work, effort, and/or time than the task that you truly want to accomplish.
The classic example of this that rings a bell for all students is the exam studying/clean room scenario. Many students can attest to the fact that when it comes down to studying for an upcoming exam, rather than studying, they end up procrastinating by doing something like cleaning up their room. Spotlessly.
What's going on here? Well, the person does not want to clean their room (I mean really, who does?), but, they prefer even more to NOT study for their exam. In other words, the student would rather clean up their room than study for their exam, because now the exam studying has taken precedence as the least favorable task to do. Often in this case, cleaning a room suddenly becomes a highly preferred task to do and it seems to take much less effort with the idea of studying for an exam lurking nearby.
This is also the same reason why people often 'create errands' to do in order to procrastinate the start of a more important project. If you want to get around this, simply make an even more daunting task appear on your task list, and soon something like training for a marathon, reading a long book, or cleaning your house may appear to be the more favorable thing to do than a task that's even harder to do. Try it out!

1 comment:

Linda said...

Hi! Just found your blog and want to compliment you on the articles. They are well written and helpful to me. Thanks for your time in preparing them. Linda