Does anyone else start inventing things to do to avoid the important?

I don’t know if it is just me but I find myself adding to my to-do list without even realizing to feel “more productive”. When really I am just avoiding the actual important task that needs to get done.

It was the night before Monday and it started fairly productive, I was prepared to take on the next day.

I had written down the two main things, in my notebook, that I wanted to get done the next morning.

It felt good.

Got into bed and drifted off into dreamland.

The next morning I wake up and suddenly I’m thinking of all these other little tasks I “had” to do.

“I need to call that person”

“I need to respond to that email”

“I need to watch that video I saved the other day”

“I need to organize everything I’ve collected in Notion for easier consumption later” (My worst “productive” distraction)

Before I knew it, the clock was creeping closer and closer to midday.

The guilt starts to set in of knowing I’m not going to get that one big thing done until later, then not have my afternoon to chill.

I physically and mentally felt so much resistance to just getting what actually needed to be done.

It was too easy to be distracted.

It got to 1 pm and I was fed up, the “to-do” list was growing, I was adding things just so I could tick them off and feel accomplished.

I tear the page out.

Swished it into my bin to join the other many forgotten lists from previous days.

And started fresh.

“Ok. If I could only do two of these today, which would most benefit me moving forward?”

Tapping my feet, and beating my pen against the desk, I give it some thought.

I really needed to finish part of a website I was building but had buried it in the leaves and branches of mundane tasks.

It required slightly more mental gymnastics than I was ready to take on that morning so I just put it off.

So I started there.

The thing I feel most resistance towards starting is often the one that needs to be done the most, it should feel uncomfortable at first.

So, I eliminated all other distractions and faced it head-on.

Don’t get me wrong I was met with a lot of frustration and a steep learning curve, but I got it done eventually.

And 2 hours later, I was ready to take on the next mountain.

So, YOU, yes you, who made it to this point, let me ask.

Are you reading this or, like me, inventing things to do right now to avoid that important task you know needs to get done?


  • @Sam Roberts ye I find it the same when I’m trying to be consistent with running. Even if don’t want to go the smallest thing of putting my shoes on and stepping out the door is the hardest part and once I’m out may as well keep going. Guess the same kind of thing. I’ll defo check out eating the frog. Thanks @Linsey M as well
  • Eating the frog mentioned by @Sam Roberts is a goodie to try, get the trickiest task done and get into the groove.
    Timeblocking is also a decent way to try and get things done/pomodoro too!
    This is definitely something which I am sure many people go through (myself included) and guess its finding what works best to tackle it.
    Right, I'm off to face things head on..... :)
  • I feel seen, but this problem can be overcome. One of the best pieces of advice I saw to help was to commit to five minutes of doing the big important thing on your list. Five minutes isn't a lot, and so you can always go back to what you were procrastinating with. However, five minutes is also long enough to get going, and often to start getting into the flow of the thing—you will often find yourself then spending much more time on it.

    Sometimes, you genuinely aren't ready, as in you really do need to have done something else before you can start. In David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' approach refers to this as the 'next action' which is "the most immediate physical, visible activity that would be required to move the situation toward closure".

    It sounds like you're doing well with writing down the big jobs, and so already quite organised. Try the five minute thing, and remember 'do the worst first' or, as Brian Tracey puts it, "eat the frong":

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