Do a Dreaded Task per Week – Improve Work Productivity, Decrease Procrastination

Posted by Stephanie Valentine on September 15, 2009 in Small Business Management |

Doing a dreaded task once a week is a big time key to success in business and in life. Now don’t get me wrong … most of the time I’m a huge believer in positive thinking and an enthusiastic outlook on life. But, like most people, there are certain tasks associated with my business that I dread. I’d rather muck horse manure for 8 hours straight than do some of these tasks. I’d rather join Mike Rowe for a stint on “Dirty Jobs” than tackle these dreaded tasks. And that’s silly, considering that most of these tasks take an hour or two to complete. Can you say procrastination?

Why Doing a Dreaded Task Weekly Improves Work Productivity
There are many reasons that simply facing and doing a dreaded task is a huge key to success. There is, of course, the common sense reason that the dreaded task usually must be done. It is a requirement. It’s not a “want to” kind of thing.

For instance, in business, this might be something as monotonous and regular as calculating and paying the quarterly sales tax for your business. Is it hard to do? No. Is it boring? Hell yes. Is it easy to get distracted? Totally! And yet, if it doesn’t get done the penalties are, well, unpleasant to say the least. You have to pay a fine, for one thing, and then there’s the extra paperwork that has to be submitted in triplicate with the fine. And that doesn’t even cover the humiliation of being called on the carpet by the state government. Yuck. So on a common sense level, doing the dreaded task is a good thing. Procrastination is a bad thing.

On a psychological level, doing a dreaded task gives you the equivalent psychological satisfaction as finally cleaning out your sock drawer and throwing away all the lonesome socks that have lost their mates. Vacuuming the lint receptacle in your clothes dryer runs a close second in terms of psychological satisfaction. And when you are a psychologically satisfied small business owner, your work productivity is sky high. Your employees will breathe a sigh a relief, thereby saving you from some kind of random employee-generated harassment lawsuit that might otherwise come out of the blue.

Then there’s the third reason to do a dreaded task rather than fall back on procrastination: it will save you time later. Here’s a perfect example of this. For a long time now I’ve needed to upgrade my contact management software. I needed something that included some more up-to-date features, like mail merge, integration with document and financial software, and the ability to handle multiple client contact lists. I had avoided researching, buying, and installing such software because it required a lot of focused attention from me. You know, some days as a business owner I get up on the wrong side of the bed, and I’d rather be flipping hamburgers for a living than running a business.

But after a lot of “I’d rather be flipping burgers” procrastination days, I finally got around to researching and installing said software. True, when all was said and done, and the software was installed with the data fully migrated, I ended up investing about 12 hours into the project. But boy was it ever worth it. With a couple of clicks of my mouse, I can select a financial document, share it with select contacts, monitor their reply, and have an auto-response waiting in the wings. It takes all of 3 minutes to do all of that. So for 12 hours of dreaded activity, I have a future of efficient work … which is good ’cause I get up wanting to be the hamburger girl pretty often these days.

Pick Your Dreaded Task of the Week
Every single Sunday, yes that lovely Sabbath before the hectic work week begins, I take a few minutes to contemplate my dreaded activity of the week. I’ve gotten so used to this that I actually look upon this choice as a kind of torturous meditation. It’s like the medicine your mom used to give you — it tastes so bad but the results are soooo good. So I pick my task, and I put that task on my calendar, with a big “D” next to it, for the word Dread. Then, when the appointed day comes around, I do the dreaded task. I grunt, groan, moan, and complain, but it has netted some spectacular results in the work productivity department. I’ve done this for long enough now that people close to me know what when D-day hits, they should leave the office until I’m done.

Now doesn’t that sound like fun? Have you got a big D that you do every week? What kinds of things make your Dread List? Drop me a line — I always take comfort in that sort of communication because, as you well know, misery loves company!

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