When we sit down to work, we feel most productive when the task in front of us gets smaller. We thrive on the satisfaction of watching it shrink. But what happens when the task seems to get bigger as we work? This can be a huge de-motivator in our time management if we don’t make a few easy alterations to our expectations.
Changing Your Expectations
These types of expectations aren’t just reserved for working. I discovered a similar scenario when pulling into my driveway yesterday. In Arizona, you need two types of grass on your lawn during the year: summer and winter. The summer grass can withstand the triple digit temperatures, but won’t do well in the winter. When I came home yesterday, I noticed that my front yard was a disaster. All of the grass was brown and it looked like the gardeners were tearing it up. My whole community looked like a barren dust bowl.
To an outsider, it would look like we had a gardening nightmare on our hands. But a trained eye knows better. A trained eye, who has lived in a desert climate, knows that this is a sign of progress. You must let the summer grass go dormant before you over-seed for winter, even though the process might look a little ugly.
Training Your Eye
A trained eye knows what progress looks like, even if the initial stages of progress look a little…messy. Once you’ve completed a big task a few times, you’ll start to recognize what the early signs of progress look like. To an untrained observer, it may look like a messy disaster, but you’ll know differently. You’ll know that sometimes tasks need to look bigger before they can look smaller and that if done correctly, it’s all part of the process.
This of course takes patience. Sometimes we get frustrated that a task doesn’t appear to be going away and we’ll try to rush the process. Imagine if my community gardeners didn’t get the summer grass out of the way before putting the winter grass down. Initially it might seem that everyone’s lawns look neater, but we’ll be stuck with brown piles of straw when winter hits. Don’t skip steps when completing your big tasks in an effort to make them look “done” faster.
Know that progress doesn’t always look like we think it should and sometimes tasks must seem bigger before they can get smaller and eventually be completed.