You have heard the question and wondered if you should complete an easy task first or finish the most difficult task for the day and get the monkey off your back.
The right answer is neither completing the easiest task first nor the toughest one. The right balance is a mixture of both.
On a usual day, you might have wondered, should you work on the easiest or the toughest task first. Have you found it difficult to work on the toughest task first? On the other end, working on the easy tasks alone would leave the most difficult tasks to later in the day.
In this article, you will learn the best method to go about choosing the right tasks to work on when you begin your day.
This article is Step 1: Complete Easiest or Toughest task first? Finally answered, in Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here – 3 Phase Transformation into Living Your Dreams.
To understand the purpose behind the activity I recommend you to read through the article. But, for the busy bees, you can go directly to the exercise.
- Easiest Task First Vs Difficult Task First
- Which one to pick first?
- Exercise to complete easy and difficult tasks
Easiest Task First Vs Difficult Task First
If you look at your normal day, how do you go by it? You will have a list of things to do and you begin completing them one after another. Simple, isn’t it? Not quite.
How do you go about picking which tasks to complete first? Maybe you already know the answer or you haven’t given it much of a thought. In most cases, we tend to pick the easiest tasks first leaving the tough ones for later.
It is possible that you do not have a well defined to do list structure. If your to do list is too long or does not help you in completing your tasks, go through – How to effectively plan your day.
There are advocates of both sides. The fan followers of Brian Tracy from the Eat That Frog fame, recommend completing the most difficult task first. Michael Hyatt recommends completing all the easy tasks first. Both sides have their own justification for their suggested approach and both are right in their own regard.
The benefits of completing the easier tasks first:
- If you consider the task count, you will accomplish a few things quickly in the morning
- For many, getting started in the morning is the most difficult challenge. A few easy things completed sets the tone for the rest of the day.
- You build enough momentum that you can keep going and accomplish more during the day
The cons of completing the easier tasks first
- The most difficult things to do can get procrastinated for later in the day or left incomplete
- You are going through the day with a mental burden that you have that difficult task to complete later in the day
The benefits of completing the most difficult task first:
- With the hardest one completed, the rest of them seem easier to complete
- You are completing the difficult task early in the day when your body and mind are fresh and energetic. Since you are tired later in the day, the difficult task seems all the more difficult. (This can again be subjective because some people can be lethargic in the morning and at their productive best later in the day)
The cons of completing the most difficult tasks first:
- The discomfort associated with picking up the most difficult task can prolong the time required to get started
- You might spend a long time on the most difficult task leading to a lot of easier tasks left pending which you could have completed in a few minutes each
Which one to pick first?
Both these styles have their own pros and cons which you cannot disregard. So what is the best style to follow?
A combination of both!
It is critical to build momentum on anything that you are working on, whether it is the next big thing or the start of your day. So, start off with about 2-3 easy things to complete on that day. Quickly complete them and you would have got your dopamine rush. You are now high on energy and motivation.
Now pick up your most difficult task. This will make it easier to complete it than having to pick your most difficult task first. You have momentum and have already crossed the barrier of getting started for the day. Now the difficult task will seem easier.
Once you complete the most difficult task, reward yourself by picking up a few easier tasks again before picking up the next difficult one.
This approach strikes a balance between the pros and cons. You retain the benefits of completing the easier tasks first. At the same time also you get over the cons while tapping into the benefits of completing the harder tasks first. You are reaping the best out of everything.
Exercise to complete easy and difficult tasks
As an exercise, start your day tomorrow exactly as outlined in this article.
- Pick 2-3 tasks when you begin your day which take about 5 min each to complete
- Once completed, pick a difficult task to complete
- Reward yourself by picking up a few more easy tasks
- Pick another difficult task
- Repeat the cycle
You now know the advantages and disadvantages of both models. There are benefits of doing the easier task first and also some drawbacks. The same applies to completing the difficult tasks too.
With the exercise, you adapt the best balance between both these ways.
Leave a comment on how this cycle worked for you. Did it help you go through your day with more productivity?
This article is Step 1 of Phase 2: Gain Momentum with Routine of the 3 phase transformation into superhuman productivity. You can begin right from step 1 by accessing the index here.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.