Have you ever noticed that when you have a big, difficult project looming over your head, you become suddenly motivated to do everything else in the world except your project? That pile of dishes in the sink? Let me get right on that! The stack of papers waiting to be filed? Sounds like a blast! Pretty soon, my home or office looks amazing, but my project still hasn’t been started. I surely can’t be the only person this happens to!
So, why do we do this? Big projects are Meat tasks. They are difficult, time consuming and require a lot of thinking. It is no wonder we often struggle to find the motivation to start tasks like these! However, most successful people can’t rationalize not working just because they don’t want to start something difficult. We want to be productive, we just really don’t want to start this Meat task. That is why we turn to our Vegetables! Vegetable tasks are much easier and more mindless to do. By filling our day with Vegetables we temporarily mask the guilt of not working on our more difficult Meat tasks. There is a great comic about this behavior here: PhD Comics (If you’ve never read PhD Comics, they are hysterical!)
The problem with replacing Meats with Vegetables is that feeling of productivity is only temporary. At the end of the day we still haven’t accomplished what we need to do. Remember, you need a balanced diet of Meats, Vegetables and Desserts every day in order to be productive.
The Time Diet to the Rescue!
So how do we fix this? Well, since we often view Vegetables tasks as a more desirable alternative to Meat tasks, use that to your advantage! When you sit down to start a Meat tasks, set a small goal for yourself. For example, if you’re writing a paper this could mean finishing the first page. When you’ve finished that goal, go do the most mindless Vegetable task on your “choose-to” list. This will keep you in “work-mode” but give your mind a break. Then, return to your Meat task with another small goal to work toward. Pretty soon, you’ll be far enough in to your difficult task that you’ll be in “the zone” and won’t need to take breaks as frequently. Remember, the hardest part of completing a Meat task is starting it. Once you’re on a roll, nothing can stop you!
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