Putting off that dental appointment may seem tempting, but putting it off creates bigger problems. Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
There are some things in life that I don’t think I ever ‘feel like’ doing – they’re never fun, seems a grinding chore, and seem to conjure up negative emotions when I think about doing them. For example, doing the dishes, general cleaning duties, and unpleasant appointments like attending the dentists.
However, from experience, I have found there are some ways to increase my level of willpower, and get myself to ‘get the job done’.
1. Playing music I love that is also upbeat with an energetic pace. Doing the dishes is more palatable when you’re singing and moving to a really great beat.
2. Break up the task. Sometimes I will ‘cut up’ a mundane task by doing it for say 30 minutes, and then having a set break time. Even short breaks can reinvigorate.
3. Have something to look forward to when you finish. However, don’t be tempted to dip into your ‘reward’ until you’ve done the task first. And it’s less likely you’ll enjoy the reward if it’s tainted with guilt and anxiety about unfinished work!
4. Try not to indulge negative thoughts which arise while you are doing the task..you aren’t having fun say at the dentists, anyway, but if you’re thinking “I hate this, I hate this’ at the same time, it can double the unpleasantness!
5. Remind yourself of the positives of completing the task. I hate cleaning, but I do love how the place looks when it is finally done. There is a tooth problem that has been bothering me for ages, but I know I will feel better when it’s been tended to.
6. Remember that willpower and self-discipline are useful qualities to cultivate in themselves. The more self-discipline you can execute regularly, the greater your ability to achieve success in those bigger tasks. For example, time put into an article doing something you like (such as writing) will pay off in the form of a great quality piece.
7. Having willpower to do tasks you dislike enhance morale and self-confidence. Conversely, if you were to give into your impulses and desires purely, you’d probably lack confidence you could achieve something important should you want to.
8. You can use the activity to practice mindfulness – for example notice the sparkle visually of the dishes, enjoy the scent of the detergent, feel the hot soapy water on your hands…
9. Do what you have to do before you do what you want to do. If you do the musts firsts, you can enjoy the wants later – with full abandon!
10. “A stitch in time saves nine”. I find attending to must-do tasks as they arise – paying a bill, seeing the dentist, doing the housework prevents massive heartbreak of accumulated obligations. (Okay I can say in theory ‘going to the dentist’ because I haven’t been yet!)
Thanks for writing this timely article, well set out and easy to read. I have routine check ups due now and it is tempting to put them off. However, tomorrow morning (Monday) I will make the necessary appointments instead of finding excuses.