At a time management presentation for a group of paralegals one of the participants asked what to do with something on her “To Do” list that she keeps putting off doing. Procrastination! What a stress producer! Nearly everyone present said this was an issue for them too.

I have to admit that every time I go down to my cellar I think, “Someday I am going to clean this place out.” So it is an issue for me as well. What do you do to get those less attractive tasks off your “To Do” list?

One participant mentioned she too wanted to clean her cellar. Her method of getting it done was to break it down into small manageable tasks. Once a week before the day trash was collected she went down to her cellar with two empty trash bags and filled them with cellar trash. Breaking a big task into smaller pieces along with a scheduled date and time to do the work helps you get the work done.

A friend of mine recently mentioned her cellar needed cleaning too. She asked me if I would partner with her to get both our cellars done. We might work separately for a time and then call to tell each other what we accomplished. I’d help her with two person tasks and she would do the same for me. The whole process sounds like more fun and less stress with a partner. Some use Personal Organizers to do this with them.

We all have some parts of our job that we hate doing. For me it is anything that is mindless and repetitive like inputting data into QuickBooks. To get this type of work done what works for me is to do this first thing in the morning. I get it done and out of the way. There is a lot of energy wasted and stress created about doing a task we don’t really want to do so just do it and be done with it! This leaves the rest of the day for meaningful work.

Another option of course is to get someone else to do that task you dislike doing. A repetitive mindless task is not something I need to be doing so hiring someone is also a good way to get it done.

One of the paralegals told me she thought all the ideas were good but getting herself started was a real problem. There was a sort of inertia she felt about doing the job. Here she was thinking about a specific project that had been on her “To Do” list for over a year.

If something has been on your “To Do” list that long, you probably want to re-evaluate your reasons for wanting to get it done. Think about life after it is complete. What will it look like? How will you be feeling? This vision of your success needs to be so compelling it will draw you forward so that you will want to get it done.

Nearly everyone in the group had met with success in finally doing something they had put off over and over again. Everyone mentioned what a happy feeling it was and the sense of accomplishment and relief that the task was done. Looking forward to that sometimes helps getting you to get started.

If there isn’t a really compelling pull to getting it done perhaps you will work better with the impact of not getting it done. Ask yourself what will happen if you never get this done. How will you feel? What are the consequences of not getting it done? Some people work best with the threat of the negative rather than the draw of the positive.

If the task is important to you, then one of these last two methods will work to get you started. Then going forward one small bite at a time, working with a partner, and/or working on it first thing in the morning will help you to keep going until it is done.

Take action
1. What task or tasks have you been putting off? Make a list.
2. Are you ready to take action? What is the positive vision to pull you forward or a negative push to get you going? Notice the feeling in your body of the push or pull.
3. Try one technique (or several) mentioned above (or your own) to get the job done.

Author's Bio: 

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (the attorney’s coach) and a Career Transition Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Parker’s Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition. Alvah is found on the web at She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.