What do you want to do least today? Do that first.

I think everyone goes through periods in their life when they feel lazy and unproductive. I know I have. And I think a big key to success is being able to get up every single day and forsake what you want to do for what you have to do.

One of the biggest obstacles I face in doing what I have to do is procrastination. I find that on days where there are unpleasant tasks that I need to take care of I end up just procrastinating by messing around online or doing other mindless activities. And the worst part is that the thing that I’m trying to avoid is always in the back of my mind. It’s unbelievably distracting, and it can take what would have otherwise been a good productive day and make it suck.

So how do I get rid of this? I defer to what my dad told me recently:

“Every day I sit down and I figure out the thing that I want to do least. Then I do that first.”

Forcing myself to do this really changed how I deal with things that I find boring or unpleasant. Once I get what I don’t want to do out of the way it opens up my day immensely. It lets me concentrate my attention on the things that I love to do like build software instead of worrying about busywork. And most importantly it ensures that not only am I devoting my time to things that I want to do, but that I’m devoting it to things that I have to do.

Drop me a line on Twitter at @danshipper if this works for you!

17 Mar 2011, 7:13am | 2 comments

  • Ajay Mehta

    This blog post is great. Dan, you should check out this Stanford prof’s essay on “Structured Procrastination”: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/ From just generally browsing on Quora and Lifehacker, I’d say that there’s also an opposite school of thought: people who think that smarting small is best. By doing all the easy tasks that come naturally, the idea is that you’ll get on a roll of doing work and it’ll be easy to shift to the harder, unlikeable stuff. I have no idea which way works best…

  • Toks Ogun

    Part of it depends on your mind frame before you start working. If you’re pumped up and ready to work then the harder task are a good start. If you having trouble getting started then smaller task can ease you in. Sometimes I use smaller task to take a break from harder ones.


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