With all there is to do, sometimes we find it easier to just… not.
When having a long list of chores or a large goal, it can be hard to imagine yourself when it will finally be complete. We may choose to procrastinate to avoid negative emotions such as insecurity, confusion or boredom. Sometimes schedules are too full and busy, or feelings of being overwhelmed and burnt out cloud your vision of the path forward.
When faced with these feelings of worry, anticipation of what’s to come, or stress, of what is right in front of us, we often struggle knowing where to start.
By breaking down goals, identifying resources, structuring rewards, gamifying routines and equipping ourselves with the tools to make completing tasks more manageable, we can be prepared to conquer any tasks, large and exciting or small and mundane. Check our tips for how to do it, whatever it may be!
For large or long-term projects, break them down into actionable steps. By making smaller goals, you’ll be able to appropriately plan and allocate your time, use checkpoints to gauge your progress and create momentum as you accomplish each goal small goal after small goal (Google “the importance of small steps” for a great visual).
Identify your actions with resources. Nobody does it alone! Look for points of collaboration and camaraderie throughout your experience. Decided a day for coffee with a friend too discuss your business idea, select a networking event to connect and share your ideas and struggles, find educational tools to continue your learning and identify accountability buddies (account-a-bili-buddies, if you will). Plus, you may find that you are more willing to hold yourself to a deadline from someone else and, while you can work to value your self-set deadlines as much as you value others, you can use this inclination to keep progressing.
Chunk the time you spend working, with the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique addresses many of the mishaps that sometimes throw us off track: deadlines too far away to incentivize our dedication to the assignment; working past the point of optimal productivity and not being efficient with our time; feeling overly optimistic about how much work you can do and getting defeated when it doesn’t happen.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo who was struggling to complete his assignments. Feeling overwhelmed, he committed to studying with full focus for just 10 minutes. He found a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) to keep track, and so, the Pomodoro technique was created. Here’s how you can do it, too.
- Create a to-do list or identify a single task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes (or use this neat website equipped with work sprints and breaks) and focus on the work at hand until the timer rings.
- When the session is over, record what you completed.
- Then, enjoy a five-minute break.
- After three or four Pomodoros take a restorative 15–30-minute break.
Once you have started the Pomodoro, the timer must ring. Do not break the session to check emails, chats, or texts. If distractions crop up, take note of them and consider how to prevent them in future sessions. If you have a thought not relevant to the task at hand, jot it down and just come back to it later.
One way to further optimize your Pomodoro breakdowns is grouping together small tasks that will take less than 25 minutes to complete, such as quick emails and maintenance tasks, and do them in one session instead of letting them interrupt ones dedicated to specific projects. You might not get the time breakdown right the first time you create your Pomodoro to-do list, but by reflecting and keeping note of how much it took you, you will soon learn to be able to masterfully plan your time.
If you’re feeling detached from what you’re doing, remember why you want it done. When we lose sight of why we are doing something, it becomes a reason we give ourselves to blow it off or delay it another day. Try to connect your actions to your values. Consider how you would reframe completing a task into the person you want to become… work with me here.
For example, I will fold my laundry because I am the type of person who …values taking care of my things has a way to honor those who made them …values a clean space …acknowledges my partner’s preference for an organized room. By remembering the values we care about we can care more deeply about the work we are doing. Here’s a couple more examples:
- I will finish my school assignment because I am the type of person who …knows that while this course isn’t for my major, it is for my overall thinking and approach to the world …take pride in trying my best.
- I will attend this networking event because I am the type of person who …values connecting with my community …puts myself out there …believes in my ideas and their potential to inspire others.
If all else fails, do the thing you dislike like you love it, that’s how you’ll cultivate the drive and discipline to get done what you want to finish.
After all, (if you are using the Pomodoro method) it’s just 25 minutes, and you’ll be done working when the timer rings!