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Tackle tough tasks with this simple strategy

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In this article, we’re going to focus on how to get tough stuff done. I’m talking about the kind of work that you might not relish. Or, work that you do like, but it’s just darn hard to get started.

According to psychologists, our brains automatically envision the hardest part of the job. Strange, but true. Then, to avoid dealing with it, our brain gets kind of sneaky. It tries to simulate productive work by diverting us to small, mindless tasks like checking Linkedin or filling out a form for HR.

We can find a gazillion reasons to justify our procrastination. But they’re not true. We just hate starting.

That’s why I want to tell you about the Pomodoro technique that was developed in Italy by Francesco Cirillo. Its primary objective is to get us going on whatever it is that we’re avoiding. It helps you learn how to work with time — not against it.

All you need is a timer or a Pomodoro app and to follow these steps:

  1. Choose a task that you want to work on. Perhaps it’s making phone calls. Maybe you need to plan for an upcoming meeting or presentation. You might have to do in-depth research on a targeted account. The choice is yours. You just need to pick something that’s important to you that you haven’t started yet.
  2. Write down what you’re doing on a simple little activity log that you create yourself
  3. Set the timer for 25 minutes. That’s it. 25 minutes. That’s the time you’re going to work on this project — or this portion of the project.
  4. Get to work right away. You’ve only got those 25 minutes, so you don’t want to waste it. In a sense, this is a bit like a game. How much can you get done in that time period.
  5. When the timer goes off, stop immediately. Seriously. Mid-sentence if needed. (Although if you’re on the phone, I’d suggest you don’t hang up till you’re done with the conversation.)
  6. Take a five-minute break. Get up away from your desk and move. Refill your coffee, do some exercises.

Once your five minutes is done, dig in again. Start a new Pomodoro session, following the same process. If you get done early with your “assigned task,” work on something else. When your timer goes off, get up and move — again.

You can do this up to three times in a row before you take a longer break.

The goal of the Pomodoro technique is progress, not completion. Personally, I use it all the time. It gets me started. And once I get going on these tougher tasks, it’s easy to keep the momentum going.

So try the Pomodoro Experiment for the next few days. See how it works for you. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how it really does help you get going — so you can achieve your goals.

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