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Avoiding the hard for the easy

Written on June 14, 2022

I’ve got this work task that’s been rolling from week to week.

I’ve had it time-blocked on my calendar for numerous days.

It is in my to-do list app, Things for weeks.

Yet, I’ve looked up from each work session to realize I hadn’t worked on it at all but worked on other things.

It’s a task that no one at work has asked me to do—not my boss, nor my co-workers.

It’s a task I had created for myself.

I created it because I know in tackling and solving it, it would unlock value for my team and hopefully increase productivity and output.

It’s a task that would solve for a pain that most everyone on my team has experienced and know about, but has yet to be solved.

It’s the type of task, that if successfully completed, could potentially warrant a raise.

So why is it so hard to actually work on it?

Because no one has asked for it.

Because my lizard brain is telling me it’s a hard task with a lot of dependencies and I should rather work on something easier at work—which is a programming task.

How am I going to solve this?

Three things…

First, I’m going to change my perspective on the why I’m doing this work.

When I first approached this task, I saw it as an opportunity for personal gain. If I do this project, my co-workers will think I’m brilliant, was the logic.

Instead, I want to collaborate with other co-workers by shopping around my ideas and getting their input and buy-in.

By having others working with me, it naturally creates external accountability.

Second, get back to the three strategies I’ve used in the past to beat the lizard brain.

Those are,

  • Setting a deadline for myself
  • Telling others about it
  • Cutting scope so that I can meet my own deadline

Lastly, I’ve been giving myself hour-plus time-blocks to work on this task for numerous days. It’s become scary. Instead, I’m going to give myself a 15-minute block this week.

If I work longer—which is likely what will happen—I’ll let it happen, but the point is to just get started and build momentum.

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