Do the Hard Things First – It’s Actually Easier!

Even organizational experts have tasks they don’t like doing.  The author of It’s Hard to Make a Difference If You Can’t Find Your Keys, Marilyn Paul, PhD, confesses that she does not enjoy checking things off her to do list.


We all have a drawer or a file or pile that stumps us.

It’s completely normal folks.  The only difference between the experts and you is that they do the hardest things first.

Have you ever worried over making a decision about something for months, maybe even years and then once you’ve done it, realized that you should have done it long ago?  That it would have saved you stress, time, worry and sleep?

The hard things in your life are like this.

I know that you don’t want to.  It’s hard and scary.  That’s why you’ve got a big pile o’ mail, bills and work that’s needed your attention for months.  Those dishes on the floor and every surface, the mounds of laundry that is aching to be done, the proposal that you were supposed to hand in 3 months ago…

As hard as it may be for you to do these jobs, you are making it harder by avoiding it. You’ve been worrying and stressing all of this time, and honestly, it’s not that bad at all.  In fact, once you get started, you’ll see it’s easier than you think.

As one of my earlier articles – What I’ve Learned from Doing My Taxes – illustrates, doing my taxes was so much easier than I had originally thought.

So whatever you’ve been supposed to do all this time, but haven’t, make this the week that you tackle it finally.  You won’t believe the relief that will wash over you.  You may not realize it, but you’ve been carrying around this heavy weight all this time.

So do what I do:

1.  Tackle the big and heavy jobs first.  This not only gives you a great feeling of accomplishment, but keeps you from falling behind in case your schedule gets wonky, you come down with a cold or any of the usual “life stuff” happens.

2. If you don’t have the time to do it in one fell swoop, break it down into manageable chunks.  Just don’t do as a friend does and break it down so much that projects don’t get completed for years!  Put deadlines beside each step and put it right into your schedule/planner so that nothing else will get in the way.

Surprised at how much less time it took you?  That’s because for once, you’re not multitasking and working at something in tiny increments.  With your focus solely on this one big thing, even though you might be cursing your way through it, you’ll get it done, I promise.

Whether you’ve been meaning to get your furnace fixed, clear out the home office so that you can actually work productively in there, go through the piles of magazines that go back to the 70s or 80s or pay your bills for the last month or two, do it first and foremost.

And then celebrate with a homemade sundae, a walk in the park or something new for your home.  After all, all that hard work deserves a reward!

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…