It seems that there’s always a big, fat and ugly task in front of us that has to be completed, in order to move things forward.
For some reason we do not like that task, because it is too big, too complex, or just we do not enjoy doing it. The task does not resonate with what we usually do, but we have to get the job done!
“Ugly Tasks” by its nature are the most important tasks to complete. Logically, does not make any sense to procrastinate on the most important tasks that are going to make the difference in our business.
Well, it turns out that we are not logical beings. And the lack of motivation or lack of interest slows things down, and that’s is associated with our emotions.
Why “Ugly Tasks” Seem Discouraging?
1) The task is too big, fat and complex – we can’t get our heads around it at first. It seems like we do not know from where to start, let alone to get it done.
What To Do About It: Break down the tasks into smaller components or manageable pieces, where you can do only one piece or component of that task at a time. I find that the smaller the sub-tasks the better. View a big task as a large category that consists of smaller sub-categories. Big tasks seem to be too abstract, so we have to make them more specific, translating them into something more tangible to see the smaller pieces within it or different ways of completing it.
Example: Let’s say you have a website, but there are no visitors in it. You want to drive traffic to that website to get more visitors.
Isn’t that a big task? Right, from where to start? There are so many ways to drive traffic to a website, so we can get lost in the options we get.
First, you want to ask yourself, in how many ways I can do this task (driving traffic to a website)? Let’s say we know only two ways for simplicity: PPC (Per Per Click) & Social Media.
Second, you want to pick only one way of doing that task, let’s say we pick driving traffic using Social Media.
Third, you want to choose which Social Media site you want to use first, Twitter, Facebook etc. Let’s say we choose Twitter
Fourth, now what to do on Twitter to drive traffic to your website? This is more manageable task, and we can take action upon it right away, because we know what to do with it. If we had, driving traffic to the website, it is too general, and we do not know from where to start.
You want to drill down the bigger task into smaller pieces as shown in the example above to get the ugly task done.
2) The Task Is Unpleasant To Do, or Lack Of Interest – it is not fun completing that task, we do not like it, and there’s no way of even considering touching it, unless we wash our hands later :-]
What To Do About It: Develop a sense of urgency. That’s the inner drive to get the job done, because you may lose something along the way if you do not. So you want to set a deadline to complete that task that usually creates a sense of urgency.
Example: Ask yourself, “what I am going to LOSE, if I do not complete this ugly task?” If it is something insignificant, then that’s the reason why you are procrastinating it, because you are not going to lose as much, if you do not complete this task. You want to set up the stage in a way that you can lose something big if the task is not completed on time.
Ask yourself, what do you fear the most? And say to yourself, If I do not complete this task, my worst fear may come true. Then try to imagine as if the worst fear is really happening or at least you want to consider it, so if you want to avoid that fear, you better do this UGLY TASK right away…
Fear is one of the most powerful motivators of the human psyche, you can use it at your advantage to get things done.
3) Fear Of Failure – we do not want to face the consequences of failure so we postpone and delay tasks and projects for longer period of time
What To Do About It: What does failure mean to you? Is it an obstacle? Why do you fear failure? What would happen if you fail? Answer to each of those questions on a piece of paper. The fear of failure can be defeated by facing the consequences directly. You need to have the courage to face the failure and imagine the worst possible outcome there is. Fear of failure has a lot to do with perfectionism, trying to make things perfect so we do not have to fail, because it is all perfect.
Example: I fear that if I do not get the job done, I am not going to get the results that I want for myself, I am going to lose everything and be poor until the rest of my life. Debt collectors knocking on my door all the time. If I really want to prevent that from happening, I better get the job done. The task may be ugly and uninteresting, but I have to get it done if I really want to get the results that I want out of my business.
4) Fear Of Success – if we succeed at this task, that means there would be more work and responsibility and we do not want that.
Most people take “the easy” way, they like to be lazy and collect the checks in the mail. So when they see a lot of work in from of them, they procrastinate and not getting it done.
If nothing is done, there’s no progress. Fear of success or self-sabotage is getting in our way to become who we really want.
What To Do About It: The more we accomplish things and bring tasks the completion, the more our work is not going to feel like real work. That’s because our brain releases endorphins each time we complete a task, and we feel certain sense of accomplishment as we do, building momentum as we go along. Yes, there is going to be more work, and there’s going to be more responsibility, but if you really want the results you want out your business, if you really want more freedom (time and financial), you are going to achieve a lot more, and people are going to respect or like you even more as a result of that.
Example: Do you remember the recent funeral of Michael Jackson? When he was alive, the press was insulting him for various of reasons, but after his death, people remember his achievements and successes more than the flaws he had, and they respect him more for the success and the achievements he made in his career. It seemed to be a lot of work, performing on stage, concerts, preparations, but the show business did not seem as real work for Michael Jackson, and he loved what he was doing. All of his accomplishments were based on lots of effort, responsibility and hard work.
5) Distractions – they cause delays, because we lose concentration. We get carried away from our work, and it takes long time to come back to where we were. It is a form of procrastination, because as others interrupt us, we try to escape in long conversations with them or hanging out with them as an excuse of not doing the work.
It is like, “Oh, you interrupt me, thanks God!” :-] I was about to do it myself, but now I have a good reason for it.
This is going to slow things down tremendously, escaping every time we try to finish an important task…
What To Do About It: You may want to read this article, “3 Simple Ways To Cope At Home Distractions And Be More Productive.“
However, there’s something you can do in this scenario, when someone interrupts you in the middle of your work, and you escape with them in order to eliminate the emotional burden from the “ugly task.”
When someone interrupts you, it gives you good reasons to postpone that task. Now it is the time to find good reasons why you SHOULD NOT postpone that task to overcome the reasons why you should.
If the “should not” reasons are stronger than “should” reasons, you’ll deal with the interruptions accordingly, and force yourself to get the job done.
So next time when you do not like a task, and someone interrupts you, as if he/she is your “savior,” ask yourself, “If I go along with this person, and if I do not get this job done, how’s that going to affect my business?” Find as many bad reasons as you can to STAY at it.
6) Doing The Insignificant Stuff First – we get caught up in checking emails, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter stats, and other activities that you really shouldn’t be doing which take a large portion of your day, and we end up doing nothing that’s important (the ugliest, biggest and fattest task).
What To Do About It: You may want to read this article, “How To Organize Your Work Without Getting Distracted By Small Unproductive Activities?“
7) “Eat That Frog” – Brian Tracy refers to an “ugly task” as an “ugly frog,” and he wrote a book that’s called, “Eat That Frog” – 21 Great Ways To Stop Procrastinating, Improve Organization Skills And Get More Done In Less Time. I read it myself, and it helped me tremendously to achieve the time independence I have today.
If you really struggle with procrastination or lack of motivation, you may want to consider getting the audio version of this book.
Because effective time management is the key to success in your professional life. “Eat That Frog” is a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day. You can even get an audio version of the book, so that you do not have to read it. Get It Now!