why getting the easy stuff "out of the way" doesn't work

since i’ve started my productivity coaching practice, i’ve noticed a common pattern. often when people are overwhelmed with the amount of work or tasks they have to do, they prioritize work poorly (that is, if they take the time to explicitly prioritize at all). 

anyways, doing the easy stuff first tends to start out intentional and end up with unintentional (but predictable) outcomes. it typically goes down like this:

  1. make a list of all the things to do (intentional)
  2. start by doing the “easy” or “quick” things first to “get them out of the way” (intentional)
  3. spend too much time doing those things (unintentional)
  4. have too little time to do the important things (unintentional)
  5. submit shoddy work (unintentional)
  6. be unhappy/unsatisfied (unintentional)

these unintended outcomes are the reason that starting with the easy stuff first is almost always a bad idea. there are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, that approach doesn’t work.

for some people, that pattern (i think) actually becomes a work avoidance mechanism. because they never leave themselves enough time to do the important work, whenever they produce something that isn’t up to even their own standards they have a somewhat legitimate fallback. “i just didn’t have enough time.”

sometimes it really isn’t a person’s fault that they ran out of time… but if it’s a common occurrence…

writing: 12:35
spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 1:10