Kill the Dread of Unlikable Tasks – How to Take Advantage of Time

Beth Beutler is the founder and executive director of HOPE Unlimited.

Do you have a task that seems to drain you, just by thinking about it? Something necessary, but unenjoyable?

Every month, I prepare a statistical and financial report on a project for which there are ongoing sales and other people involved. No one is standing over my shoulder waiting for the information, but it is useful.  One day, toward the end of my work day, that task remained on my list. So, I changed the due date and closed up shop for the day. The next morning, when I had limited time, I decided to see how long it would take to actually do the task and get the report out, so I set a timer and dove in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the dreaded task only took about 10 minutes if that. I simply had to focus, transfer the numbers, prepare the email and send it out.

Now that I realize how little time it actually takes, I hope to be less likely to dread it popping up on my monthly recurring tasks.

When you find yourself dreading a task, take control of your time to maximize your energy and time by considering the following:

  1. Do it while running a timer. When done, note the time it took. Add that time onto your task description (if it is a recurring task) to remind you that it doesn’t take that long.
  2. Schedule it. If you can’t do it now, schedule a time in your calendar for “miscellaneous tasks” (I call it “TIE” for tasks, in-box, email) and make sure you stick with that appointment.
  3. Postpone it–carefully. If you must postpone the task, only allow yourself to postpone it once. If you don’t, you may postpone it so much that you’ll push it into a time when it comes up again, and now the work is doubled (i.e. if you don’t do September’s report until October, you’ll then have two reports to do.)

Sometimes our mind makes things harder than they are. Be realistic about the time a task will take.


Inevitably, there will be tasks that really don’t take that long and can be knocked out in the time it takes to gear up to do them or complain about them. To get started, do you procrastinate regularly any of the following?

5 Minute Tasks: cleaning out one file, cleaning off my desktop, deleting or moving a few electronic files, cleaning up/deleting emails I don’t really need, doing a quick review of my calendar for the next week

10 Minute Tasks: returning a couple of phone calls or emails that take just a few sentences; doing a more detailed review of my calendar, researching a product, cleaning out a desk drawer

15 Minute Tasks: conducting a call with a client, reading a chapter of a professional development book, taking a walk, cleaning out a good number of emails.

Sometimes our mind makes things harder than they are. Be realistic about the time a task will take. In some cases, you may be surprised that it won’t take as long as you think! Time it and tame it for less stress!

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