You know those weeks when you get to Friday and still have a couple annoying tasks left to do that you’ve been putting off all week? Now it’s Friday afternoon and you’re anxious to start the weekend, but you still need to finish those dreadful tasks before you can call it a day.
Those kinds of to-dos are the worst! They drain your energy and stress you out because they keep showing up on your to-do list day after day. I bet you can think of something you’ve been dreading doing. Making that phone call to your insurance company (don’t tell me I’m the only one who hates those!), finishing up a tedious report for your boss, replying to that nails-on-a-chalkboard email from a client….we all have things to do that aren’t the most fun. It’s called being an adult I guess ?.
I thought I’d take today to share a strategy that helps me attack those dreadful tasks before they become annoying constants on my to-do list. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the last day or two of your work week and only have enjoyable projects left to work on? Things that weren’t under a tight deadline? It’s entirely possible!
This post is part of the series “From Overwhelmed to Organized: Making Time For All The Stuff.” We’re talking smart time management strategies all month long! All of the blog posts in the series will be added to the bottom of this post as they are published.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. See my disclosure here.
The secret to attacking your most dreadful tasks is to do them FIRST. You know which tasks they are, so don’t let them loom over your head and weigh you down all week long. Ditch the stress and just get the hard things over with right away. You can do this by front loading your schedule, which means making time for your worst tasks and most important projects at the beginning of the week and first thing in the morning.
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What he meant is that if you do your worst task–a live frog–first thing in the morning, you will be able to go on with your day knowing the most painful part is already behind you. It’s all downhill from there. Author Brian Tracy wrote an awesome book all about this concept if you want to learn more. It’s called Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Front loading your schedule is a smart work habit to have. While everyone else has a case of the Mondays, you’ll be getting your most daunting tasks out of the way so you can coast into the weekend rather than have to scramble to finish up those pesky things on your list on Friday afternoon.
Our willpower and energy are highest in the mornings and on the first couple days of the work week, so it’s best to focus on the biggest things first. Get your live frogs out of the way right away, and then move onto the most important priorities. This is why so many people advocate for exercising first thing in the morning–because the later in the day you get, the more likely you will be to put it off.
It’s things like exercise and dreaded phone calls that often don’t take up a lot of time, but they can drain your mental energy quickly if you continue to procrastinate them. Before you know it, you’ve managed to push them off for days. Focus on attacking those dreadful tasks early on in your schedule so you don’t have to stress about them all day or week long.
To implement this strategy, schedule time to work on your most important priorities on Monday and Tuesday. Your goal is to power through those tasks early in the week so you can get ahead of the game. If there are dreadful tasks that need to be done, do them first thing. If you have a tough time deciding what is the largest priority and therefore don’t know what to do first, check out the priority matrix I shared in last week’s post.
For example, if you have something due on Friday, start working on it on Monday and Tuesday. That way you get those time-sensitive projects done earlier in the week and aren’t stressed out Friday morning when you have less energy.
Front loading your schedule gives you the ability to maximize the time when you are most focused and disciplined, which enables you to crank out all sorts of work. I try to front load both my day and my week.
I love the feeling of getting my most urgent, important and dreaded tasks all knocked out before lunchtime. And it’s also really relaxing to know if I’m feeling worn out by Friday, that’s okay because there’s nothing left on my list that needs to be wrapped up before the weekend. I try to put fun and ongoing projects on Fridays, things that I can make progress on but don’t need to be completed that day.
Why Front Loading Your Schedule Works So Well
You Make Progress On What Matters Most
By intentionally planning my schedule with my most important tasks first, I ensure that I’m always making progress on my priorities. Since I work on those things early on in my workweek and workday, there’s no chance for them to get pushed off and ignored. Make progress on what’s most important to you by prioritizing it at the beginning of your schedule.
You Stay Ahead Of Deadlines
Working on important projects with looming deadlines earlier in the week is a great way to reduce the stressful feeling of working up until the very last minute. Look ahead at any upcoming deadlines and plan time to work on those tasks at least a few days earlier. It never hurts to get ahead!
You Won’t Have To Dread A Task All Day Long
Getting the “frogs” out of the way first thing in the morning frees up so much mental energy! Those dreadful tasks can weigh on my mind for days, but many of them take less than an hour to do. So getting them knocked out right away means I won’t waste any more energy worrying about them.
You Have The Most Energy & Focus
When you get to work on Monday morning, you mind is clear and rested from the weekend (that’s the goal anyway!). You haven’t gotten bogged down with a million different things yet. Spend those first few hours on Monday getting something important done before you start answering phone calls and checking emails. Some people like to schedule 60-90 minutes every morning as their power hour, where they work on projects and block out distractions.
You Gain Momentum
If you can get into the habit of finishing a project right away in the morning or early on in the week, you’ll gain momentum that will motivate you to accomplish even more. When it comes to productivity, half the battle is just getting started. But once that momentum gets rolling, everything else will seem easier. I try to remind myself to just get started, even if only for a few minutes, and I’m usually surprised that once the time is up I want to continue working. That momentum is a powerful thing and key to getting things done.
You Leave Time For Emergencies
By focusing on the most urgent and important tasks early on, you free up your afternoons and the end of your weeks for emergencies and interruptions. Distractions will no doubt creep in, so get those important tasks out of the way so you have buffer time for the things that come up later on.
You’ll Feel A Crazy Sense Of Accomplishment
Taking a lunch break and realizing you’ve already accomplished your goal for the day is incredibly rewarding and energizing! That sense of accomplishment will make you happy knowing that if you get nothing else done for the day, you’ve still finished something important. But since you have so much momentum at that point, you’ll probably feel motivated to see what else you can get done that afternoon.
You Can Coast Into The Weekend
Front loading your schedule also means that you can coast into the weekend, because you’ve already achieved all the most important things before you even get to Friday. So while others are racing against the clock on Friday afternoon, you can take it a little easier if you want. It’s a great feeling to know you won’t be sitting at your desk at 5:00 on a Friday still trying to get that project wrapped up so you can go home.
Do you front load your schedule? What strategies do you use to get those dreadful tasks off your plate? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of things you have on your plate, I highly recommend creating a weekly schedule so you can be more intentional with your time. I’ll walk you through the entire process in Crush Your Week, a short five-day email course designed to help you get control of your time.
More From The “Overwhelmed To Organized: Making Time For All The Stuff” Series
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This book is designed to help you find time for all of your commitments and responsibilities as well as your big goals. Consider it an action guide rather than your average book. You will come away with a tangible routine you can put into practice immediately.
Have a splendid day!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. See my disclosure here.
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