“Doing work that matters is much harder than doing work that doesn’t.” – Peter Bregman, author of “18 Minutes.”
The important work that we say that we want to do is often hard. It’s so much easier to fritter away time on things that don’t matter like Facebook, Pinterest, or Farmville. These easy distractions give us an immediate pay-off which is hard to resist. The long-term pay-off of pursuing our goals is much more valuable, but also much farther away.
The Quadrant II activities in Stephen R Covey’s Time Management Matrix include things like planning, clarifying values, and relationship building. These are the activities we should spend more time on, but that often fall by the wayside, pushed aside by more trivial matters. Take these steps to overcome the pitfalls and get important stuff done.
10 Tactics for accomplishing important work:
Don’t overlook your goals when choosing your Most Important Tasks (MITs) for the day
Important tasks can be routine work, like the report that is due today and the car that needs an oil change. We know that QII activities are also important, but without a deadline they can often be easily postponed. They may never happen if you wait to do them until you have free time.
Tackle important work at the best time
It’s best to work on tasks that require thought and creativity when you have the most energy, usually in the morning. Don’t waste your most productive time. Short hourly breaks may work the best. (see more about the Science of Productivity)
Remember the benefits
Consider the consequences if it is not done, and the benefits of accomplishing it.
Make it easy
In his book and TED Talk, Peter Bregman uses an example to illustrate this. His family thought they would eat outdoors at a table, but found they never used it…until they moved it a little closer to their door. Make good habits easy, and bad habits hard.
Maybe you don’t need a complicated plan. Maybe you only need to know the first step. Some projects may be complex, but keep them as simple as possible. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Break it down
Big tasks can seem overwhelming unless they are broken down into smaller action steps.
Take one small step
Get started by telling yourself you will do just one small step. Often once inertia is overcome, it’s easy to keep the momentum going.
Keep it visual, and keep it on your radar. Peter Bregman’s 18 minutes: 5 minutes in the morning to plan, 5 minutes in the evening to review, and a timer set hourly during the day to re-focus.
Assign a date and time in your calendar. In 18 Minutes, Peter Bregman describes studies from the book “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz which reveal that deciding when and where we will do something makes it 80-100% more likely to be done.
Want to learn more? Read 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman, and watch his TED Talk, The Work Buffet.
More resources to: Learn about Productivity