“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”
― Dale Carnegie
First off, the title is a bit of an exaggeration. This technique won’t always get you more done in less time, but it will help you get more important work done sooner.
Let’s get straight to the secret: Do the tough stuff first.
Think about it. If you’re running a marathon, do you want to deal with difficult terrain at the beginning or the end of the race?
If you knock the hard stuff out at the beginning, it’s smooth sailing down the stretch. You don’t have the weight of a big task hanging over your head, stressing you out, and decreasing your effectiveness on the easier tasks.
Besides, your confidence gets a nice boost when you complete challenging tasks. You approach every subsequent task with a sense of invincibility. You know you can take on the world because you just did.
So, should you put ten super difficult tasks at the top of your to-do list?
First of all, make sure this task is important. If it’s not, cross it off the list now. Don’t waste energy on stuff that doesn’t move the needle.
Second, try to break the big tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks. I recommend limiting task sizes to about an hour, two max.
Now, pick just one big item. Make it the one you don’t want to do. Make it the one you’ve put off for days or weeks. Make it the one that’s holding you back and keeping you from progressing toward your major goals.
They didn’t build Rome in a day, and you don’t have to overcome every challenge in a day, either. Get a big one done today; tackle another big one tomorrow.
Finally, make sure you reward yourself for completing each difficult task. You want your brain to get that nice dopamine hit when you do the big, scary, important work. So, binge on a couple of YouTube videos, or take a break and relax. Maybe even eat a little dark chocolate. Train your brain to enjoy finishing the big things.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get stuff done!