There’s a tonne of task management apps but no matter which one you use, the responsibility of completing a task ultimately rests with you. And don’t get me wrong, they help get things done. But what do you do when a task scares the living hell out of you. Where just thinking about it gives you the chills.
Well, we feel your pain. So here’s a list of tactics you could use every time you come across a task that seems insurmountable:
- Categorise complex tasks
Complex tasks can fall into 4 broad categories. Is it a one-time task or a recurring task that needs your attention? Is it a big project or a major problem that needs immediate fixing?
Knowing what kind of a task will help you zero in on the best approach to checking it off your list. You’ll know how much time you’d need to spend on it, to what extent can you break it down into smaller chunks, and if you would need any additional resources to complete it.
- Use activation energy
Activation energy is the minimum amount of energy required to get started. The idea here is to do the bare minimum so you can get going on the task.
To begin with, you can commit just 5 minutes to work on the task. It does not sound like a lot and is a great way to trick your mind into focusing on a task. Before you even realise, you’d have spent way more than the 5 minutes you had initially planned and, in the process, made considerable progress on the task.
- Go from small to big
Jeff Bezos wanted to make every type of product available on Amazon. But that’s not where he started. Amazon just sold books when it launched. And only when he had a considerable customer base did Amazon slowly expand into other products.
Bezos went from small to big. You could use this tactic when dealing with complex tasks. For instance, if you need to sell 1000 e-readers, you can start with a target of 10. Once you’ve sold 10 you then have a successful sales strategy that you can implement to reach your target of 1000.
- Imagine the worse
Fear can be a great motivator. Thinking about the repercussions of leaving a task unfinished can more often than not get you going.
Picture this. You have an investor who is interested in funding your business, but you don’t have your pitch deck ready. If you don’t get this done in time, you’ll lose this investor along with the capital investment that you so dearly need to propel your business.
- Eliminate or delegate
At times you may genuinely have too much on your plate. The best thing to do would be to review your priorities in such situations.
Once you have a clear picture of what’s important and what’s not, you can then delegate tasks that aren’t a priority or eliminate them to free up time and attention.
- Keep a margin of safety
For an entrepreneur, time is of the essence. The more time you give yourself for a complex task, the less stressed you’ll feel. And the sooner you begin, the more time you’ll have to work on it.
If you think it is going to take you 2 hrs to complete a task, add an extra hour or two for it. If you complete it within 2 hrs, great. But if you ever need more time, you know you can afford to stay on it for longer.
Using these smart tactics in combination with the right mindset will help you get in the flow state where working your way through your to-do list feels effortless.
Managing complex tasks should be an integral part of the entrepreneurship education curriculum. If you’d like to find more such techniques, we’d recommend listening to productivity podcasts and attending entrepreneur events and investor summits. There’s a tonne of valuable information you can come away with.
Look at your to-do list. Are there any tasks you’ve been sitting on just because they seem too daunting? Take charge today. Now that you’ve got a few tactics under your belt, it’s time you tick them off your list.