Why taking on that less important task now might be very important


BrainpowerYou’ve probably been in the following situation yourself: You’re working on a lot of tasks and have a Trello board – or whatever tool you use to keep track of your tasks – that’s packed with stuff you need to do but this less important task keeps nagging you.

To improve your workflow you are working each task one-at-a-time since it’s become obvious that multitasking is not good for your creativity and productivity and that made prioritizing your tasks more important than ever.

And of course you’ve also chose to work according some guidelines on how to handle your tasks like Getting Things Done or using the Pomodoro Technique to use your time wisely.

But even after all of these improvements or “live hacks”, as they’re being called by some, you have these subjects or tasks that keep nagging you in your mind . You can’t seem to let them go and they keep popping up.

Read about what to do with those “nagging topics” after the break.

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Three strikes, you’re out is what I use for these nagging topics. No matter if the topic is a task that is prioritized with “Could have” Or a priority level 3 instead of 1. If a topic has been on your mind 3 times, it appears that it is so important for you in some way that it is taking up brain juice. For me, that is the queue to handle it and don’t wait on handling it because another task is still before it in the queue.

If a topic keeps popping up in your mind it clearly is important enough to drain your energy.

Why do you need to take it on after three times?  The issue at hand might not be what seems productive to you at first – you would have prioritized it higher if it really would add more value than other tasks. But don’t forget that it is taking up your mind and is pulling your focus from other apparently more important tasks at hand.

Thinking about something but not doing something about it is just a waste of brain time and it is costing you energy since it doesn’t give you satisfaction.
No matter if you like to think in the mindset of

The nagging topic doesn’t provide more value over other tasks. No, my friend. Au contraire, it is actually costing you.
So make sure your tab is clear, and you’re in the black digits.

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To be clear, though, spending time on that nagging issue doesn’t mean it should be your new top priority. If a nagging topic has hit the “three strikes, you’re out” rule, you just take the topic in front of you and start evaluating how to deal with it.

Depending on your task handling workflow use you might choose to:

  • take care of the topic right away since it will cost you one hour to Get It Done
  • crystallize the nagging topic, break it down into subtasks or subtopics so you can stop wondering about it
  • set it out in time so you exactly know when you’re going to deal with it
    (this might even be implemented as planning it for your Thursday afternoon so you have spent time on it and can get other tasks done after the appointed time. It is important that you timebox handling the issue if it is something you want to do in between.)

A combination of the above might work also. All I’m saying here is the following:

Don’t go at a nagging topic full speed until it’s done. Spend a fixed amount of time and focus so it stops nagging you.

To insure peace of mind ignore the rules and regulations. – George Ade