Habits and Goalsetting

What to Do When You Don’t Want To Do Your “To Do”

April 13, 2013

Well, you can click on a wacky-titled blog post to distract yourself from your priority, first of all…. Which I’m glad you did.  Here you will find the best steps to stay on track with your goals and objectives. I don’t think I’m alone when I say there are days that seem to fly by, […]

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Well, you can click on a wacky-titled blog post to distract yourself from your priority, first of all….

Which I’m glad you did.  Here you will find the best steps to stay on track with your goals and objectives.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say there are days that seem to fly by, as if every hour feels like 5 minutes, and by 7pm my “to do” list for that day, full of actions and tasks prioritized from 1-10, has only been crossed off up to number 3 : (


inevitably causing self-deprecation for lack of productivity and an overall conviction of self-doubt/hate.


Without being able to pinpoint exactly what’s different, I will also have days that run right on track.


Obstacles still materialize, my timeline may not pan out as predicted, but for whatever reason, I end up getting more done without really harping on the time (or lack there of).


From researching motivation, goal-setting and human productivity, I have found the following steps/resources lead to the latter type of day.


It is very much still a work in progress, as can be expected by any attempt at behavioral change.

Enjoy, and Happy Doing!


What to Do When You Don’t Want To Do Your “To Do”:


1. Make More than One list!


Chances are you have goals and objectives you need/want to accomplish today, tomorrow, by next week, and in the next 3 years. Start by brainstorming a list of ALL of these goals and actions. Spend at least 20 minutes letting as many of these brain-hoarding actions out on paper.


Next, put a star by the 5 most important objectives, no matter if they are “to do’s” for today or next year; Star those that are most urgent to you. This is your 2nd list.


Lastly, pick THE most urgent task, write it out with specificity of deadline and detail.


This is your task for tomorrow! Again, it does not matter if it is an objective that cannot be completed in one day. It may be “go to the bank”, and it may be “get my masters”. Either way, if you starred it as most important to you, it’s about time we take the first step, right?


Now you can systematically revisit the initial list. Maybe you can now star a new action to replace one that has been accomplished. Maybe your priorities have shifted. Constant reevaluation and progress measurement are crucial.


2. Assign 1-3 important tasks a day, no more.


I picked this tip up from reading The 4-Hour Workweek By Tim Ferriss. Limiting the “to do” list takes the pressure off “not having enough time” to get the most important tasks done.


Your 1-3 prioritized actions for each day should be chronological steps to completing your most urgent objectives. Each step, however, should be broken down into an achievable, 20 minute-1 hour commitment, NO MORE!


Take the “get my masters” goal for example. One day’s objective may be: “I will wake up 30 minutes early to research online masters programs in my desired field and record useful information” boom! Go about your day, take the next step tomorrow.


Not only is it effective to narrow your actions down to a single focus per day, it is also 100% more likely that you will do it if… you do it first thing in the morning! The mentors from whom I draw my productivity inspiration agree with this across the board!


For more on baby-step actions and knocking them out BEFORE the craziness of the day begins… See:


Practical Goal Setting Technique with Gregory Sims

“What the Most Successful People Do” Book series by Laura Vanderkam

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss


3. “Time” to be Real with Yourself!


Log your time for one week to analyze where you are spending time on unnecessary distractions/time-wasters (tv/social media/email/staying up late)


Click Here to Download Vanderkam’s Time Log Spreadsheet FREE!


This is the step through which you discover where you can swap time for your important tasks. The BEST time, again, to knock out those hovering tasks, is first thing in the morning!


As quoted by Mark Twain and expanded by Brian Tracy’s time management book Eat That Frog,  “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”


Some things to think about are:

Going to bed earlier to wake up in time to have about an hour to work on your task (if it can be done outside of business hours)

Creating a “To Don’t List” to eradicate time/energy-wasting thoughts/actions

Taking inventory of time-suckers that aren’t adding to your well-being/success/quality of life


  • Time trying to please people that will never be pleased


  • Having too many surface conversations/small talk that don’t add to your relationship with the other person or your personal growth


  • Spending time on tasks that aren’t your strength instead of asking for help and getting it done 3 times as fast for the sake of pride or the feeling of “if I’m not good at it I should force myself to do it in order to get better”… not worth it if the very task of trying causes anxiety/too much time.


4. Taking A Over E!  Actions Over Excuses.

This is it. This is the doozy.


There is a reason we have overlying tasks built up in that “I’ll get around to it” category. The reason(s) are individual to each of us, and the only answer to pushing through them, is to CHOOSE to do so….it is to CHOOSE ACTION.


I haven’t cleaned out the garage because…. I don’t spend enough time with my family because… My career is not moving forward because… yada yada yada. Think…. What is the VERY FIRST STEP  you would take to turn that sentence around for yourself?


– Schedule 2 hours a week designated towards cleaning the garage, even if it is half-hour increments. Write it in the calendar as if an appointment.


Draw up a list of ordered steps to follow i.e. step 1. go through old toys step 2. tune up bikes step 3. organize boxes etc.


– Communicate to your family your desire to spend more time together and discuss ideas together how to incorporate it. Maybe make it a game; each person writes down an activity they would like to do with the family.


Everyone puts his/her activity in a jar/hat and 1-3 times a month, you draw from the hat.


– Specifically define to yourself pros and cons of your current career state, as well as drafting a vision of your desired state. Then comes the list of feasible actions to accomplish this state.


Ex. Talk to boss about additional responsibility you feel you can handle, apply to that new position, designate 1 day a week as career day during which you spend that 20 min-1 hour working towards you desired state. Go to your local library/google to research others who have similar paths to the one you hope to follow.


It is this step that gets you results. Someone who wants to lose weight doesn’t do it by running for 24 hours straight and then sitting for 2 weeks.


It is daily, constant lifestyle work and willpower to take that baby step every day, ESPECIALLY on the days you would rather do anything else. Remember, E.D.M. Every Day Matters!


These 4 steps and embedded resources will have you on your way to surprising productivity and self-growth! Good luck : )


For more resources on increasing productivity and time management, see below:

Ultra Human Productivity… By Dee Kumar

Here is one on GTD, Getting Things Done

“21 Days to a More Disciplined Life” Series

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