Work Smarter//

How to Focus On a Task You’re Not Excited About

Tips to help you finally address those items at the bottom of your to-do list.

Branislav Nenin/ Shutterstock
Branislav Nenin/ Shutterstock

You know those tasks on your to-do list that need to get done, but somehow always end up at the bottom of the page? We all have them. Sometimes, we avoid them because they seem less exciting than the other projects on our plates. Other times, the task itself feels daunting and stressful, which can lead us to feelings of anxious avoidance: we find comfort in pushing the assignment off until later, or in skipping it entirely. 

If you’re having trouble focusing on a task you’re not excited about, there are simple strategies that can help you stop procrastinating and finally cross it off your list. Here are three tips that can help:

Block off designated time on your calendar

We often say we’re going to do something, but having a designated appointment to hold ourselves accountable is one of the best ways to actually follow through. Pick a day to focus on the task at hand and block off an hour or two to dedicate to it. It can help to set a Slack status to remind your colleagues not to disturb you during that time, or even a sticky note on your desk to remind you to keep going when the procrastination instincts kick in. 

Do a browser sweep

Having other websites open while you’re doing focused work is a sure way to distract your mind. To really hone in on what you need to be working on, close out any tabs on your browser that you don’t need for this specific task — and even put your phone away to eliminate outside distractions and notifications. The idea is to declutter your physical and digital workspace so you can tackle the task in front of you.

Pick a colleague you can check in with

Having an accountability buddy is one of the most effective ways to ensure you keep to your word. Message a teammate of yours in the morning to let them know you’ll be working on this specific project today, and even ask them to check in with you at the end of the day to ask how it went. When you know you have to follow up later on, you’ll be more inclined to stay focused and productive. Plus, you can have someone to celebrate your small wins with at the end of the day.

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