Six ways to tame a tough task

six ways to tame a tough task

You know you’ve got a lot on – that to-do list next to you is growing by the minute – yet the screen in front of you is terrifying in its blankness. You flick over to Facebook, then come back, and continue to stare at a white page. Groan! “I’ll never get this report / assignment / essay finished,” you think to yourself, “I can’t even get started.”

How to get a tough task complete:

Groan no more – we have six tips to share with you to tackle even the toughest of tasks:

1. Set aside the less important stuff for now: 

Lots of people work more efficiently in the morning. If you know you’ve got a big job on, try and dedicate your morning to at least making a start on it. It’s easy to think to yourself, “I’ll just answer these emails, then I’ll get started; I’ll just read these news articles, then I’ll get started.” But before you know it, it’s the afternoon, and your energy is waning. If the emails can wait until the afternoon for a response, let them wait for you in your inbox - use that morning energy on the more draining task.

2. Bite-size chunks are easier to digest

Preparing a 20-page quarter-end report for your boss may seem like an impossible task, but breaking it down into smaller sections will make it seem a lot less scary. Setting lots of little goals along the way will help keep you motivated, and motivated people are more efficient.      

3. Just do it: 

Often the hardest part of a tough task is starting. If you really can’t muster up the enthusiasm, why not commit to just half an hour? You may be surprised how things start to flow in that small amount of time, because you finally got over the mental hurdle of procrastination and got into it.

4. Set up blocks of time to work on the task: 

Not many people can focus entirely on one task for extended periods of time – for a lot of us, after about half an hour, our minds start to wander and the quality of what we are producing starts to drop. Try setting up half hour blocks to dedicate your concentration solely on the task at hand, then take a short break of, say, five minutes. Then block out another half hour, then take another short break. Knowing there is a break coming up helps you feel in control of the task, not the other way around.

5. Commit to a first draft

Get something down on the page – it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be a starting point. It is much easier to edit what is there than continue to stare at a blank page. Get it down quickly, and don’t overthink it – you can always come back to polish it later, and with fresh eyes it might not even seem that bad.

6. Reward yourself for your hard work:

The task wasn’t fun, but you were disciplined enough to sit down and get through it – go you! Now be sure to reward yourself with something that makes you happy – positive reinforcement at this point means you’re likely to be more enthusiastic about completing this task again in the future.   

And you’re done! Doesn’t that feel better? Tough tasks don’t go away by ignoring them (sadly), but with these tips, you’ll knock that big job over in no time.

CPA CAREER MENTOR

CPA Career Mentor

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