Are you that person who lives by the quote: “Life Is Uncertain; Eat Dessert First?” In other words, do you take the reward before doing the task? Did you go out to play before doing your homework? Do you play video games before getting an important task done? Do you watch TV, talk on the phone, shop online, etc. etc. before tackling the important things on your list? In my world – this means doing those quick, fun, and easy tasks on one’s list before tackling the less interesting, and generally higher-priority, tasks first.
I had a client recently make this comment to me while working on prioritization, “I’m kind of a ‘dessert first’ person.” So, what that said to me was three possible things:
- There is a lack of discipline at play.
- They didn’t have their tasks prioritized well.
- They lacked motivation and the ‘why’ to get their highest priority tasks done before taking the reward of free time or whatever it was for them.
Going on the premise that we do things for one of two reasons: To achieve pleasure, or to avoid pain – let’s address the third reason noted above to start. As a general rule, I have seen in my experience that we humans tend to gravitate toward the tasks we will get the most pleasure from – makes sense. Why not do that which brings us joy, right? Except by NOT doing the tasks that are most important, we tend to increase the ‘pain’ associated with that unmet responsibility or promise: guilt around not doing it; the potential of not having enough time once we get around to tackling it; or continually putting it off until it becomes so big, scary, and urgent that there are vast amounts of stress in eventually dealing with it. For many, I have seen the latter be the most common occurrence. This often winds up exacerbating procrastination issues…until we can define our ‘why.’ Often, knowing the reason for doing a task propels us to get the task done by making it a priority and following through. Have clarity on ‘why’ a task is important: Will it lead to an opportunity? Fulfill a promise or commitment? Does it allow you to do other tasks or move forward on something you are looking forward to? Defining the ‘why’ can be the magic ticket to propel you forward to get the task done.
That brings up the second reason for being a ‘dessert first person’ namely: Prioritizing. Often times when we don’t prioritize ALL the tasks, we just jump around getting random tasks done. This means we don’t handle the most important one first. We leave it for last…like broccoli – whereby we will fill up on all the yummy food first (busy tasks) and then have no time left for the high-impact task(s). Or with this analogy – we eat dessert before having the healthy part of the meal first – the one with the highest impact on our bodies.
And finally…lack of discipline. Come on – this is your life here we are talking about – grow up and muster up some discipline to get things done in the right order. Doing the quick, fun, and easy tasks first rarely leads to a productive day – nor positive outcomes. Suck it up and get the most important thing done first. You don’t get dessert first here…you haven’t earned it nor deserve it. You know you are happier, feel better, and have far better results when you tackle your important tasks first – so write them down; push yourself; and get stuff done in the right order. You will be glad you did and no diet required either!