I don’t feel like doing it.
Writing that grant application. Placing an important sales call. Editing a book chapter.
Many entrepreneurs and executives have tasks that languish on a to do list for days or even weeks.
You might even feel guilty about procrastinating for so long. Instead, find a better way of starting work with a bang.
Know Your Body Clock
University neuroscientist Russell Foster concluded the performance differences at our high and low points are the equivalent of drinking the legal limit of alcohol.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually work while drunk. So save tasks you like to put off until you’re fresh and more mundane tasks for slower parts of the day.
Some entrepreneurs like rising early and working on their most important tasks before breakfast. Others prefer working in the late afternoon or at night.
Rather than getting worked up about creating a perfectly productive morning routine, understand how time affects your brain power, and then structure your day accordingly.
Set Up Mental Triggers
A subtle but clear mental prompt is sometimes enough to gain momentum on a troublesome project.
When I was writing a nonfiction book, I left sticky notes on my keyboard with instructions like, “Write 500 words for chapter 2” or “Edit this tool with Grammarly”
This approach didn’t allow me to procrastinate at the start of the day.
I know a busy sales executive who leaves information about difficult sales calls he must place on his desk. He sees them immediately when he sits down with his morning cup of coffee and picks up the phone.
Apply Pareto’s Principle
Also known as 80/20 rule, this principle states 80% of the results you experience come from 20% of the work.
The economist behind this rule, Italian Alfredo Pareto, was concerned about the distribution of income and wealth among the population in Italy, but his principle applies to modern work too.
As an example, your company website might publish a hundred blog posts in a given year. Google analytics will probably reveal 20% or fewer of these post drove the bulk of your company’s website traffic.
You might also work with many clients but find only a few are easy to work with and pay the most.
Track what you do each day for a week and how long these tasks take. Use an app like Rescue Time or even a basic spreadsheet.
On Friday, rate the effectiveness of each activity between one and ten. Now compare your effectiveness to time spent on a particular activity and decide what to spend more or less time on next week.
Switch It Up
Go to a different room in your office. Take the laptop to the coffee shop. Work at a different desk. Swap Excel for Word.
Changing where you work could help you approach your to do list in a novel and fresh way. Perhaps you can finish that important presentation in a coffee shop rather than hunched over your desk until 6:30 p.m.?
Alternatively, put what you’re doing aside for an hour or two and work on something else that doesn’t consume as much time or mental energy. Then when you’re feeling better and more energized you can return to the difficult task in question.
Work Like A Caveman
It’s part of our biology to conserve energy and even natural to feel lazy and unmotivated.
Rather than beating yourself up, get as much value as you can from your working hours. When the end of the day rolls around, do the one thing you shouldn’t put off: Stop.