"When I get the feeling to do something, I lie down until the feeling goes away"
We’re all guilty of it, and know we’re doing it, so just why do we put things off? When you finally decide to start that project you know has to be done, tidying up your desk, or making a coffee suddenly become quite appealing.
There are many reasons why we delay doing the important but not urgent stuff:
- The project is so big you don’t know where to start.
- The project isn’t interesting.
- You have too long to do the task.
- You don’t like the task you need to do.
We put off the majority of important tasks because they are too overwhelming. They are too complex or time consuming for us to handle.
Swiss Cheese Technique
Alan Lakein suggests the Swiss Cheese Technique.
- Pick a small task related to the main project & do it.
- Follow this task with another small, easy & instant task & do it.
This process is dubbed as poking holes in the cheese. Eventually the cheese gets filled with holes, you get more and more involved in the project and it becomes much easier.
Don’t try and bite the same hole out of the cheese twice. If you tried one task and it didn’t lead to involvement, just try another task. Use the same technique for unpleasant tasks – do little 5 minute tasks then do something else.
Eat the ugly frog first!
Mark Twain said that, suppose tomorrow morning the first that you do, is catch a live frog, stuff it into your mouth, munch it down and swallow it all up. Once you did that, the day can’t get much worse now can it?
Therefore every morning, find the ugliest most repulsive task that you have on your to-do list (i.e. your frog) and knock that off before getting on to doing anything else. Once you’ve got that done, the rest of the day when you’re doing the easy tasks would seem like relishing your favourite dessert.
Brian Tracy, author of ‘Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’, takes the analogy further:
- If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.
- When you’ve got two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
- You cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one.
- How do you eat your biggest, ugliest frog? The answer is: “One bite at a time.” i.e. you break it down into specific step by step activities and then start on the first one.
- You should never be distracted by a tadpole when a big frog is sitting there waiting to be eaten.