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How to trick yourself into tasks you don't want to do

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

Willpower: it’s a funny thing. We are all guilty of avoiding the essential, mundane tasks that we need to do. How many times have you delayed your latest assignment? We know it happens, the trick is, how can we take the ‘chore’ aspect out of it all? 

The answer is quite simply: deception. But how do we trick ourselves? If we know something needs to be done but we don’t want to tackle it, how can we overcome our stubbornness and get proactive? Here are a few helpful ideas. 

How to trick yourself into tasks you don't want to do

Entice yourself

It sounds so simple – give yourself a reason to complete the task at hand. Perhaps you have a first draft dissertation to complete, or perhaps you’ve got the basic framework of a project to submit. You know it’s going to take a little time, so why not reward yourself as you go along.

And to help you even further, there are different ways that you can go about... 

  • Regenerative: Giving your body a way to recharge ensures that you don’t get completely disheartened. By taking 5 or 10 minutes away from the project you are working on to clear your mind will enable you to step back into it with renewed vigour.
  • Fun Inc.: Finding a way to add some enjoyment to your project is a quick and easy way of lightening the burden. If you’re at your desk, why not have some music on in the background. Perhaps if you’re working as a group go for food together and cultivate a ‘working lunch’ element.
  • Eye on the prize: If you’re working on something particularly large and time consuming – perhaps over several days (or even weeks) a large reward is often a good solution. Whether it’s a new fashion item, gig tickets or simply the knowledge that you can tuck into a cupcake, focusing on physical ‘feel good’ reward can make all the difference in lifting your spirits when times are tough.

Learn 7 tips for getting the most out of your day.

A problem shared is a problem halved

Although it is not always possible, getting some help with the task in hand is also a good way of accomplishing it, should your heart not be in it. Sometimes a little outside perspective helps change the way we attack something. Collaboration has been the key to success on many an occasion but it also helps to keep you focused.

It’s all too easy to drift off into the realm of daydreams, particularly if a task is hard to engage with. Having someone there to help you keep on track is pretty much like having your own personal trainer, only with less tracksuit and montage music.

You vs you

Ultimately, the core issue comes down to your own headspace. What if, despite the promise of reward, you still can’t light the fires of creativity and get the job done?  Well, that’s when it’s time to shift your thinking a little and bring in a little imagination.

Sadly, it’s a fact that these days the majority of tasks that challenge us will be mental as opposed to physical. Rarely do we get to pit ourselves against the wild outdoors as much as we have to contend with fluorescent lighting, laptops, multiple screens and bad posture at a stock ikea chair.

Imagining the task in a similar way to a physical competition can help to really lock in our focus. Playing games with yourself and seeing it as a mental competition can drive you towards your desired end result. An ability to exercise mental quickness, strength and stamina is a challenge that we can all continue to pursue. 

Read: Why You Might Need to Give Up Perfectionism


However you decide to encourage yourself to overcome your to-do list, just remember one thing; there is no point in getting too bent out of shape. Even the most troublesome times shall pass. While it may not seem like it, there is always and end to every beginning. The trick is, walking out with your head held high, knowing you've given it your all. As long as you do that, you are unstoppable. 

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