Book Of The Week: Do The Hard Things First

If you struggle with procrastination, I’ve got an excellent book for you.

Scott Allan is a self-proclaimed lifelong procrastinator. He says that he even put off writing “Do The Hard Things First“ for months.

In the book, there are 22 actionable steps to overcome procrastination.

Scott calls it procrastination recovery.

While I would love to highlight all of the steps in this blog, here are just a few:

Bring Your Determination

Think back to a time when you really wanted something, and no one could stop you from getting it.

That was your determination at work.

When we are determined, we let go of fear and excuses.

Scott goes over 10 possible excuses that we rely on when avoiding tasks. For example, we may find unrelated activities to distract us from the task that needs to be completed. Or we may try to act like we don’t care about completing a task to create emotional distance from it. We may even blame external circumstances for our procrastination (i.e., you can’t pay your bill on time because the website is down for maintenance for 24 hours).

Beyond excuses, there are valid reasons why we may procrastinate.

Sometimes when we procrastinate, it’s because the goal is unclear or it’s not really something we want.

Know What Holds You Back 

Pay attention to any internal and external constraints. For example, if you’re having trouble getting started with exercising, ask yourself if you need help learning the proper exercises. Who could you ask for help with getting started? Scott says that when you identify the constraint, you can work to remove it. We all have constraints, but letting fear take over will cause us to procrastinate, and then nothing gets done.

To “Do The Hard Things First,” we must be aware of our internal constraints and what’s holding us back.

When we realize what is holding us back, we can start taking steps to change those behaviors.

One of the things we can do is write down tasks that need to be done. Scott says that writing tasks down acts as a rehearsal for doing the intended task.

Make a sticky note of the difficult task that needs to be done and put it where you can always see it.

Having an accountability partner can really up your game in achieving goals. If we don’t have anyone we are accountable to, it’s very easy to act as if your goals don’t matter or can always be accomplished “later.” If you’re accountable to someone, they’ll call you out if you’re procrastinating or getting distracted.

Final Thoughts 

One of the reasons that I tend to procrastinate is I fail to realize how small actions compound over time. It’s easy to focus on the end goal and how daunting it can be if we forget about taking one small step at a time.

It’s much easier (and wiser) to focus on each step and build momentum.

Also, as Scott reminds us, it’s important to know why we put ourselves in situations where we procrastinate so that we can create solutions to change old behaviors that no longer serve us.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “keep moving forward.“

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