Do you get to the end of the day and feel that you've met your most pressing deadlines but haven't accomplished anything that's fundamentally important? You're hardly alone. In a series of studies recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, people typically chose to completet tasks that had very short deadlines attached to them, even situations in which task with less pressing deadlines were just as easy and promised a bigger reward. If you're like most people, these priorities slip to the back of your mind while you work on low importance, time-specific tasks, such as booking a hotel room for a conference, clearning out your email inbox, or writing a monthly newsletter. So, what can do? Shcedule Important Tasks, and Give Yourslef Way More Itme Than You'll Need. Research shows that scheduling when and where you'll do something makes it dramatically more likely that the task will get done. For very important and long-avoided tasks, I like a startegy that I call "clearing the decks," which means assigning a particular task to be the only one I work on for an entire day. I recently used this stargegy to get myself to set up a password manager, something I'd been putting off for literally years. Unfamiliar but important tasks often have learning curve that makes how much time they'll take to complete undpredictable.Working on them often feels more clumsy than efficent, which is another subtle factor in why we don't do them. The"clear the decks" strategy of allowing yourself a full day, even when that seems excessive, can be useful in these cases. Isolate the Most Impactful Elmeents of Important Tasks. Big Task often require incremenetal progress. Coming back to the password manager example, my initial goal had been to create new strong, and unique passwords for all my online accounts, but this wasn't absolutely necessary. It made most sense to start with my 10 to 20 most valuable accounts. If you habitualy set goals so lofty you end pu putting them off, try this: When you consider a goal, also consider a half-size version. Mentally put your original version and the half-size verion side by side, and ask yourslef which is the better(more realistic) goal. If your task still feels intimidating shrink it further until i feels doable. You might end up with a goal that's one-fourth or one tenth the size of what you initially considered but that's more achievable - and once your start, your can always keep going. Anticipate and Manage Feelings of Anxiety Many important tasks involve tolerating thinking about things that could go wrong, which is anxiety-proviking. Examples: making a will, investigating a lump, succession planning for business, actually reading your insurance policies, or creating that crisis managenment plan. Even when tasks don't involve contemplating catastrophes, those that have the potential for large payoffs in the future commonly involve tolerating anxiety. General examples of important but pontially anxiety-provoking tasks include: developing new friendships, doing something challenging for the first time, asking for what you want, having awkward conversations, facing up to and correcting mistakes, and chipping away at large, multi-month tasks where you need to tolerate fluctuating self-confidence and doubt throughtout the project. Spend Less Time on Unimportant Tasks Unimportan task have a nasty tendency of taking up more time than they should. For example, you might sit down to proofread an amployee's report - but before you know it, you've spent and hour rewriting he whole thing. In the furture, you might decide to limit youself to making your three most important commeents on anypiece of work that's fundamentally acceptable, or giveyourslef a time limit for how long you'll spend providing notes. Having strategies for making quicker decisions can help too. When you've get a pressing descsion do make, it can be better to make quick decision than a perfect one that takes more time.