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How to Get Anything Done — Especially the Big Gnarly Things

When we have a so-called “hard” task on our list, we often make it worse by labeling it that way. We think to ourselves “that’s really gonna suck, I don’t want to do it.” And usually it does end up being unpleasant. But not because it’s inherently unpleasant. It’s unpleasant because we made it seem that way in the way we framed it. Glass half empty, ya know?

There are no such things as “hard” tasks. Only big ones, small ones, familiar ones, and unfamiliar ones.

A big task might take us a long time. An unfamiliar task might take us a long time and require us to practice getting comfortable being uncomfortable. But neither of them is “hard.”

To label something as hard, or difficult, is a judgement we’re making about that thing, not a truth.

Sustaining the willpower needed to finish big tasks requires discipline and attention, but even those two things are not “hard.” They require practice and patience to master, which takes time, but time is all we have anyway.

If time is all there is (which is sort of how I understand it), then it’s really our only tool. Some tasks take a lot of time, some take a little. All of them will eventually be nothing but a memory, relegated forever to the past.

So the next time you catch yourself saying “this is going to be hard” or “I’m gonna hate this” stop and shift that to “this is going to take me a while.” And then ask, “how can I make this effortless? How can I make that the most enjoyable part of my week?”

And then when it’s time to start that task, ask yourself “what’s the tiniest thing I could do right now to get going?” It may be as simple as opening your email client or putting on your shoes.

Or maybe just closing this tab in your Chrome browser.

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