Fact of life: Some tasks are just much harder than others. Whether it’s because a task is out of your comfort zone from a technical perspective or because it brings up ALL THE FEARS or because it’s going to require a difficult phone call or something like that, it’s challenging to motivate yourself to do it first up in the morning. I get that y’all – it’s hard for me, too. But there are so many reasons it’s a good idea, which I’ll be sharing with you in this post.
If you’ve been getting overwhelmed with all the productivity advice that’s out there, this is a super simple thing you can focus on doing that will dramatically increase your productivity and your confidence in yourself (which is a huge bonus). Getting the hardest thing done first will allow you see yourself as the kind of person that gets stuff done. You’ll stop seeing yourself as someone who procrastinates and start seeing yourself as the capable woman that you really are. Here’s why it’s worth trying:
Harder things take more effort
As I’ve mentioned, there are lots of different reasons that a task can be hard. And while some hard tasks might not take that much time (especially if it’s just a phone call or something like that), there are a lot of tasks that are hard because they’ll require a lot of effort and focus. It’s tempting to leave these kinds of things until the end of the day in the hope that you’ll feel like it – but there’s only like a 1% chance you’re going to feel more motivated at the end of the day than you do at the beginning.
Doing the hardest task in the morning will help you make sure you’ve got enough time to get it completed. And y’all already know that if you push it back to the end of the day it’s wayyy more likely to get pushed back even further. Which leads me to my next point:
You have limited willpower
There’s actually a scientific reason that you make your worst decisions at the end of the day. It’s called decision-fatigue and it’s the reason watch Netflix with a tub of ice cream after work instead of doing the workout you planned. Y’all know what I’m talking about right?
A helpful way to think about how decision fatigue works is to think of your ability to make good decisions like a water well. Every morning (if you get a decent amount of sleep), you start with the same amount of good decision-making ability – a full well of water. Every time you make a decision, whether it’s an important one or not, you are drawing from that reservoir. As the day goes on and you keep drawing from the well, your ability to make good decisions depletes. And once you’ve used up all of your decision-making energy, you have no willpower to rely on and bad decisions start to happen!
Since decision fatigue is a VERY real thing, doing the hardest thing first means that you’ll be able to do that task with the best ability you have. So it makes sense, right? If it’s going to be hard anyway, at least make it a little easier on yourself by not doing it when your brain’s fried. And you’ll be less likely to convince yourself you should do it tomorrow instead.
Side note but this is why it’s also good to pick out your outfit the night before. This way, you don’t waste your best decision making energy on looking cute (I’m NOT saying it’s not important y’all, but you’ll probs choose the same outfit if you do it the night before and achieving your #goals is important too).
It creates momentum
OK you know how amazing it feels when you tick off a task on your to-do list, right? (It’s why I looove handwritten to-do lists). So y’all know that it feels EVEN BETTER when that task is the hardest task you have. It’s such a relief! And the rest of the day feels like a breeze once it’s out of the way. Plus you’re not spending the day in dread, so it’s easier to be in a better mood and so much more productive. Doing the hardest task first will create momentum in your day – and that can be the difference between one that’s good and one that’s not.
The reality of trade-offs
Working hard is V important, but there comes a time when more effort doesn’t necessarily yield more results – it’s called the law of diminishing returns. Most of us respond to demands at work slash from ourselves by putting in longer hours which inevitably take a toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally and make us way less productive. So at some point, putting in those extra hours isn’t actually helping – which is kinda counter-intuitive but makes sense when you think about it.
A huge realization for me was that my brain gets tired (duh Brighton!) but I’ve realized that when it comes to creative work, not only is there a diminishing return but at a certain point, writing more actually produces a negative return because bad writing isn’t just bad – it actually creates more work for yourself as you need wayyy more time to revise and edit.
But how does this relate to doing the hardest task first? Well basically it’s about doing what’s important. You’ve only got a limited amount of time before you become unproductive and it starts to have a negative impact your work, health, relationships etc so you need to get the important things done. And the important things are usually the hardest – so do them first!
I also LOVE to think about this in terms of the 80/20 principle that Tim Ferriss talks about in his book The Four-Hour Work Week – which is that 20% of your effort creates 80% of your results. But I won’t go into that here because I chat about it in detail in this post.
Ok y’all, I hope I’ve convinced you to get the hard stuff done first thing in the morning. I know it’s not easy but it’s a really simple way to be more productive.
Have you tried doing this? What was your experience? Lemme know in the comments.
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