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How to make yourself work hard even when you’re not in the mood

You have not sorted your bills for more than a year, you have to pack up your mother’s home because she’s moving into a retirement home and you have to prepare for an important conference call.

You haven’t started on any of these tasks and you have a whole list of reasons why you can’t get going. But you know what, they are just excuses.

And you’re running out of time because you’re running out of excuses: I don’t have time, I don’t where to start, there are too many other things going on, etc.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the most common excuses people use for not jumping in and getting things done. We’ll also look at some strategies to overcome these evasion tactics.

In an article posted on LinkedIn Dr. Travis Bradberry highlights the five most common excuses that we use to not get started on what is right in front of us. He is the award-winning coauthor of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart® a consultancy that serves Fortune 500 companies.

1. You don’t know where to begin.

We have all found ourselves in a position where we have too many different demands on our time or a task that is overwhelmingly large and complicated and we literally don’t know where to start.

Does it really matter where you start? Like a deer caught in the headlights, running in any direction is better than standing still.

“There’s no sense in wasting valuable time by allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the complexity of the task.

“The key here is to not allow fear of the whole to stop you from engaging in the parts,“ writes Bradberry.

He suggests breaking the project down into what you can achieve in 60 minutes and then what you can do in the next 60 minutes and so on.

Before long, you’ve completed some part of the job and suddenly you realize that in time, you’ll manage the entire thing.

2. You tell yourself there are too many distractions.

When we are faced with a daunting task or something we don’t feel up to, it’s easier to get distracted by answering emails, making calls, reading newsfeeds online – anything to not have to get started.

Here’s the thing though: being busy is not the same as being productive.

When you find yourself busy with tasks and activities that distract you from tackling a sizeable task, slow down and think about what will happen if you continue to put off the task. Distractions make us forget about possible negative consequences of avoiding a task.

Reminding yourself of what will happen if you continue procrastinating is a great way to make distractions less enchanting so that you can focus on your work, says Bradberry.

3. You find the task too easy.

When you regard a task as easy to do, you might underestimate the time it would take to complete so you put off starting on it. Once you get started you realize your mistake and are left with too little time to complete the task or complete it properly.

Bradberry makes a great point here that we often forget.

“If a task is too easy, draw connections to the bigger picture, because these connections turn mundane tasks into a fundamental (and do it now) part of your job. For example, you might hate data entry, but when you think about the role the data plays in the strategic objectives of your department, the task becomes worthwhile.”

When the smaller, seemingly insignificant things don’t get done or get done poorly, it can have a ripple effect throughout a department.

4. You simply don’t like it.

This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. It can be very hard to get started on something you don’t like to do or even hate to do.

Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to develop an interest in some things that simply will never be of interest to you.

Here’s a plan. You might not like it, but it works.

Rather than leaving these tasks for last, make it a rule that you cannot touch any other project or task until you’ve finished the dreaded one, suggests Bradberry.

He adds:

“When you do get started, you can always turn the task into a game. How can you achieve your task more efficiently? How can you change the steps of the process and still produce the same result? Bringing mindfulness to a dreaded task gives you a fresh perspective. The task itself might not be fun, but the game can be.”

5. You think you are not up to the task – you can’t do it.

There’s a thought process here that sets you up for failure. You put the project off because you cannot get past thoughts of failure. What’s going to happen if I blow it? How am I going to do this? Could I be fired over this?

“It can reach a point where avoiding failure seems like the best possible option. After all, if you never engage in a project, you’ll never fail. Right?

“Wrong. Procrastination itself is failure—failure to utilize your innate talents and abilities. When you procrastinate, you’re failing to believe in yourself.

On the other hand, if you believe you can do something and you visualize the positive results that can come from that, you set yourself up for success.

Remember the saying: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.


Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown was interviewed about the recent success of Ideapod and where it’s headed. There are some fascinating insights in this podcast, including why Justin doesn’t believe in positive thinking. Listen below.

RELATED ARTICLE: Viral TED talk reveals why you procrastinate and the one thing you can do about it

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Written by Coert Engels

I'm a South African based writer and am passionate about exploring the latest ideas in artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology. I also focus on the human condition, with a particular interest human intuition and creativity. To share some feedback about my articles, email me at [email protected]

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