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Five Ways to Actually Move Forward on That Task You’ve Been Avoiding

First, get clear on the vision

Every professional occasionally drags their feet on certain projects. It is easy to put off tedious tasks, like filing expense reports, or emotionally draining ones, like writing up a negative employee performance review. Indeed, research has shown that procrastination — rather than being a moral failing or sign of laziness — is actually a subconscious strategy to avoid negative emotions.

One of the most common reasons we procrastinate is that certain projects may feel ambiguous or amorphous. We become overwhelmed because we just aren’t sure what to do or where to start, leading to "task paralysis." As I discuss in my book The Long Game, that can derail our efforts to make progress on long-term goals, even while we fill our time with what we recognize as comparatively trivial matters. If you find yourself repeatedly ignoring a particular line item on your to-do list, even when it may be critical for your future success, here are five things you can do.

Get clear on the vision.

Especially if a particular project has been handed to you by a manager or colleague — "write this grant proposal" or "research this opportunity" — it may be unclear what they're actually looking for. Do they want a 20-page deep dive or a one-page summary? An analysis you can present to the board or your quick take? In the midst of our "freeze response," we may not even realize we're unclear on the scope, so it is important to go back to first principles. What, precisely, are you being asked to do? What is the desired output, and how long do you estimate it will take? Clarifying the intention can often help get us unstuck.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Harvard Business Review.

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