Linda was recently describing the experience of doing her PhD dissertation research. She said that although she was interested in the question she was studying, she felt fearful and incompetent about taking on such a large project knowing that it would require her to do a fair amount of work that simply didn’t interest her.
So, instead of tackling her dissertation she cleaned the back of the refrigerator—literally! As she scrubbed, she realized that in the face of work that's challenging, frightening, and tedious, many of us will do some version of cleaning the back of the refrigerator in order to avoid the pain of treading into overwhelming tasks.
“I’m cleaning the back of the refrigerator” has become our shorthand whenever one of us starts doing something other than what needs to be done.
As coaches to executives for over 20 years, we know that most of us have times when we need to do work that's challenging, or boring; and procrastinating just makes it more difficult… and yet we procrastinate just the same.
Recently we were reviewing the goal setting book, the Self Journal*, and we found some simple advice and two perfect questions that helped us do the work that needs to be done when we’d rather clean the back of the refrigerator.
The authors suggest that prioritizing your tasks and actually tackling the hardest one first will help increase the likelihood of getting all of your tasks done, and it will build your confidence for the rest of your day.
They regularly ask themselves two questions when they’re trying to get through their priorities… particularly the ones that are difficult:
- Which task will make me feel the most accomplished?
- What’s the value in getting this done, and what’s the risk if I don’t?
We love these questions—simple but action-based! We invite you to take some time this week, when you'd rather clean the back of the refrigerator, to ask yourself these questions and see if they help you move forward.
We’d love to know how it goes!
You can do this… you can get traction on the things that really matter to you!
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting
* BestSelf The Self Journal – Day Planner Goal Setting System, BestSelf Co. LLC, Copyright 2015- 2016, page 14
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