How to Complete Critical Tasks You Dislike: Strategies for Productivity

Person completing checklist


I know a business owner who hates everything associated with billing, collections, and finance. 

When it’s time to cut an invoice, he stalls. When payments are past due, he stalls. When he has to reconcile financial statements, he stalls. 

Those things don’t get done, and they become an emotional anchor. He knows undone things are piling up. That weighs on him. He feels guilty for putting this off. That weighs on him. Cash-flow suffers. That weighs on him. 

But, still, he doesn’t get it done efficiently. 

Meanwhile, all that emotional weight distracts him from other tasks. So he struggles to get done even those things he likes to do. 

Sound familiar? 

Everyone faces important business tasks they don’t like to do. 

Some stall and let it weigh on them -- which creates undue stress for the business and its leaders. Others find a way to get the job done. Their businesses thrive, and the leaders suffer less stress. Everyone wants their business to thrive, not suffer.

So how do you make it happen? Here are four keys to get done the things you hate to do.  

Set Realistic Priorities

Business people often avoid dreaded tasks by shoving them to the bottom of the priority list. If you convince yourself it’s less important, you’re more comfortable putting it off. 

But is it truly less important? 

If you find yourself getting stuck, putting off tasks, leaving things undone, focus first on realistic priority setting. 

Consult with colleagues. Turn to an accountability partner. Do whatever it takes to systematically set priorities ranked in order of importance, not based on whether you like to do the work. 

One way to do this: Ask what would happen if you leave a task undone. Which task on your list would have the greatest negative impact if left undone. Put that task at the top of your priority list.  

Decide Whether to Do It or Delegate It

If you don’t like to do something that’s near the top of the priority list, you have to decide: Are you going to push ahead and do it anyway? Or will you ask someone else to do it?

Those are your options. Putting off the task is NOT an option. 

Delegation is a great solution IF you delegate properly (See How a Stressed Owner Let Go and Got Away for more on delegating properly). 

Dedicate Time to Tackle the Task and Make it the Right Time

If you choose to tackle the task, commit to it. 

Estimate the time necessary to complete the task. Be realistic. If you underestimate the time, you set yourself up for failure. 

Set aside time on your calendar 

Here are some resources to help you with this: 

For most business people, morning is the best time to tackle draining tasks. You have more energy, and you can dive in and get it done.\

But I know others who prefer the afternoon to tackle their more challenging tasks. 

You can choose. Just commit, and choose the time that will work best for you to get the job done.

Ditch the Distractions 

Turn off your phone. Don’t check your email. Close your door. No visitors allowed. 

This will help you work more efficiently on any task. 

This distraction ditching is critical when tackling tasks that you don’t like. 

At first, you may struggle and backslide. Your mind may wander. You may check your email even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t.

Just keep at it. Remind yourself why this is a priority. Reiterate your commitment to the task. Reestablish your promise to avoid distractions. You’ll get back on track. 

If necessary, lean on a coach or partner to hold you accountable. 

Celebrate Success

Nice going! You completed a challenging task. You cut off that anchor. You lifted that weight from your shoulders. Your business is moving forward. 

Revel in your progress. This is not frivolous back-patting. This feeds the systematic progress machine you’re building. When you celebrate success, you create the psychological carrots that will inspire more forward action, more progress. 

Want to tackle the right tasks at the right time, delegate effectively, and minimize inefficiency and stress -- for your business and yourself? 

Schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session with Cheryl Lauer. You and Cheryl can discuss your challenges and goals, and she can offer actionable advice to help you.