No Motivation? Tackling to-dos when you just don’t wanna
As children, many of us thought the adults in our lives had everything together. What we couldn’t have known back then was that adults can be scattered, too. Pretty much every grownup on the planet has looked at their to-do list and thought: “But I don’t wanna!”
If you’re currently in this situation, here are a few ideas that may help you get through all those tasks you’ve been putting off.
Only list tasks, not projects
One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating their to-do lists is devoting only a single line to a project that in fact takes multiple steps. For example, let’s say one of your tasks is “Shop for groceries.” You might put off this seemingly simple “task” because your brain knows very well that food shopping requires a long sequence of tasks that involve different functions, locations, and amounts of time!
To stop dragging your feet on your to-do list, look at it more closely and check if any of your tasks are actually projects. Then, convert your lists into atomic tasks, which generally contain a single, specific action verb. In our grocery shopping example, that may mean separate tasks for checking cabinets, writing or typing a shopping list, gathering your reusable shopping bags to take to the store, checking your bank balance if you’re on a budget, and so on. Follow the list and you’ll not only get started more easily, but you’ll feel great when you get to tick off your tasks at lightning speed.
Combine work with fun
If your to-do list is full of activities you dread doing, such as household chores or trying to achieve Inbox Zero, it’s no wonder you’re putting things off! Luckily, tedious or unpleasant routine tasks can be made more tolerable with a little fun thrown in. Here are some possible add-on activities to try:
- Binge listen to an audiobook or podcast while you work
- Bet yourself that you can finish a task in a certain amount of time, set a timer, and race yourself to the finish
- Make up songs narrating what you’re doing, as if you’re the main character in a Broadway musical
Trick your brain
Another way to help your brain overcome resistance to getting started is to teach it that your most dreaded tasks are really enjoyable. Here’s how it works. The next time you’re doing a task that you constantly procrastinate on, say to yourself, out loud: “I’m SO happy I get to do this! I’m the luckiest person alive!”
Of course, your conscious brain knows that you’re fibbing and don’t actually love scrubbing the toilet. However, proclaiming your enthusiasm for toilet scrubbing will sound so silly that you’ll be able to laugh about it, producing real positive emotions that you’ll associate with the task in the future!
Extra tip: Gamify your to-do list
It would be great if you could get cheers and applause every time you finished a task in real life, but using an app to turn your to-list into a game can also make you feel like a winner. If you're not sure which app to use to track your tasks, we have an idea! 😉