You are supposed to be doing an important project.
When suddenly, you realize that you are doing something else entirely. It’s easy to confuse the things you want to do with the things you need to do.
Before you know it, you have spent hours on mindless, often meaningless, tasks.
Confusing Wants with Needs
You want to run a few errands.
Yet, you need to finish that presentation.
You want to go to the social event.
But, you really need to do your work.
You want to do the easy (or fun) task on your list.
But, you need to do the task that you’ve been putting off.
It is very easy to confuse your wants with your needs.
Tasks you want to do are more attractive than those that you think will be unpleasant. So, you gravitate towards the simple and fun todos on your list instead of doing the items you need to complete.
“Putting your wants ahead of your needs leads to many things done, but not much accomplished.”
This behavior feels good when you are doing it, but is counterproductive in the long-term. You may finish many tasks, but your most important ones will remain untouched.
At the end of the day, you have a feeling of dread that you really didn’t do anything important all day.
Even if it means finishing fewer items on your list, putting your needs first ensures that you have the most impactful day. You will maximize your productivity by doing your most important tasks first.
Here are 6 Tips to Help You Do What You Need to Do vs. What You Want to Do:
- Prioritize Your Work – Prioritizing your todo list is the first step in making sure you do your important tasks first. Move them to the top of your list if you’re using an app. Highlight or star them if you are using paper. Either way, make sure that they stand out from the rest of your work. Always start with your priority items.
- Work Before Play – We teach our kids this, but yet, most adults don’t follow this simple advice. Do your work before you play. Don’t let yourself get away with doing “fun tasks” before your “work projects” are done. It’s that simple.
- Invest in the Present – Today is the only day you have. The present is the only time you can act on. What should you be doing with it? Invest your current time and put it to the best use you can. Don’t procrastinate important items until later or tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen then or how much time you will have in the future.
- Say No, So You Can Say Yes – Sometimes you will have to Say No in order to Say Yes to something more important. You may have to turn down an opportunity so that you can Say Yes to your important work. Say No to social commitments that preclude your work. Say No to inconsequential tasks on your list that threaten to take up your time. And Say Yes to the things you need to do.
- Question What You “Have to Do” – So many of the obligations and tasks we put on ourselves are things that we have “chosen” to take on. There are very few things in life that you must do. Question everything on your list and on your calendar. Do you really have to do them?
- Delegate Menial Tasks – If you find that you simply don’t have enough time in your day, try delegating your lesser tasks. As Andy Stanley says, “Only do what only you can do.” Delegate simple tasks that someone else could do. Perhaps, even hire a service to do them for you, so that you can free yourself up to do the important work that only you can do.
Always Do Your Most Important Tasks First
You must put your most important tasks first.
The lesser ones will fit themselves into your day when you have time. Many of them will fall off your list entirely.
If you always do your most important tasks first, you’ll be more productive at work and at home. When you do get to the things you want to do, you’ll enjoy them more knowing you’ve done the things you needed to do.Question: Are you doing tasks you want to do rather than those that you need to do? You can leave a comment by clicking here.