Tips to Motivate Yourself for Boring Tasks, Untimed Tasks and Ones you don't Like

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Ignatius D
Manager, India

Tips to Motivate Yourself for Boring Tasks, Untimed Tasks and Ones you don't Like

It might have happened to you sometimes - or even frequently - that when you don't have a deadline for some task, you postpone it, set it aside or you prioritize other work, rather than completing this task you currently have. This is because your mind knows that there is no deadline and the work can be done later. Hence there is little motivation to complete this work fast.

You might deprioritize a project which doesn't have a deadline because it might be boring, lengthy or you are feeling uncomfortable handling it. But most of the time you are unable to do it because you have projects with strict deadlines at your hands and the project with no deadline remains stagnant as it was.

How can you motivate yourself to complete that work even if there is no specific deadline for that work? Below some tips that will help you complete such tasks without specified deadlines.
  1. Set a Personal Deadline: Even if there is no official deadline, you can always create one for yourself. You can commit to completing the task by a given date, or you can spend a certain amount of hours per week on this project, or you can make a to-do list and complete the tasks.
    You need to write the tasks down which you are going to complete and mark them on the calendar according to your schedule. This part is very important because you might not want to do a task with no deadline when you have a task that has a pressing deadline. So schedule this non-deadline task in your free time when you have less workload. Once you have set the deadline for this task according to the order of priorities, there comes a sense of urgency and it helps to get the work done.
  2. Talk about the Task with Colleagues: Talking to peers means that when you make the goals or the deadlines public there is positive peer pressure of completing the tasks on time. When you tell someone about the schedule of completing the tasks and keep them updated, you tend to work more effectively. Consider it as giving your word to someone that you will complete this, then eventually you will complete that work. Thus peer pressure can play a very important role in motivating a person.
  3. Perform the Task with a Colleague: You can also opt to work with someone on that non-urgent project. Working together you might set up a time for doing the tasks. You could also just do the task in a room where another person is doing a separate task. This works best when you let them know about what you are going to complete today and update them at the end of the session. If your colleague knows what you should be doing he or she will hold you accountable.
  4. Incentivize Yourself: Another strategy to motivate yourself is deciding on some incentives when you complete the work or part of the work. You can try the positive, "carrot approach" where you reward yourself when you complete certain tasks or use the negative, "stick approach" where there will be a penalty if you don't complete the task.
Do you use any of these 4 strategies for tasks without a deadline? Can you think of one more? Please help me make my topic better.

Sources: Elizabeth Grace Saunders, "How to Motivate Yourself When You Don't Have a Deadline", HBR Ascend, October 2019
Alexandra Samuel, "How to Trick Yourself into Doing Tasks You Dread", HBR Ascend, November 2019

  John Henry
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