How to tackle tasks you don’t like doing

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Do you have tasks that you don’t like doing but you have to do them because they’re important?

It could be work-related: going for meetings, public speaking, giving a presentation. Or personal-related like cleaning the house, exercising, cooking.

Sometimes, even the thought of doing these things can give you anxiety.

So what can we do to motivate ourselves to do these things in a better frame of mind?

Let me share how I do it.

Almost every morning (I say “almost”, because there are some mornings that are just too hectic), I write in a journal and plan my day ahead. I list down the important tasks I need to do for the day.

Two important tasks I need to do but don’t like doing are “household chores” and “exercise”.  

These are two important tasks because 1) I don’t have a maid who cleans my house daily and 2) I need to exercise to stay healthy.

When I’m writing these tasks in my planner, I don’t write them as “do chores” and “exercise” because these words don’t motivate me. They sound dull and will most likely result in me not doing them.

So what I do is I give them another name.

Instead of “cleaning” or “doing chores”, I thought of another word: “sprucing”, which means the same thing:

gerund or present participle: sprucing

  1. make someone or something smarter or tidier.

It kind of makes the task sound more fun, doesn’t it? That way I approach the task with a more positive attitude.

Another one is “exercise”. For some people, “exercise” is a neutral word (or maybe even a positive word for exercise buffs). But for me, “exercise” means “a strenuous, unproductive and unenjoyable activity”.

So instead of “exercise” I use the word “recreation”. Now it sounds like a physical activity that’s fun, so I may look forward to doing it. I might plan to take a brisk walk at the park while listening to some of my favourite podcasts.

Now let me share one that’s related to work: “presentations”.

If you had a “presentation”, you’d imagine yourself speaking in front of a group of people while presenting PowerPoint slides that you spent sleepless nights on.

So even the thought of “presentations” can cause anxiety.

But what if you called it a “sharing session” instead?

It might help you see it as session where you share your ideas with a group of people so that they support your initiative and take the action that you want from them.

So be creative about it.

Think of activities or tasks that you assign a negative meaning to. What other words can you replace them with so that you approach those tasks with a more positive attitude?

Soon, you’ll find you develop a better frame of mind towards tasks that you used to dread. It’s a good exercise to improve your vocabulary as well.

So there you have it. I hope this has been helpful for you. Share with us the tasks you don’t enjoy and the new words you’re going to replace them with. We love hearing from you.

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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