What My Dentist Taught Me About Repetitive And Irritating Tasks Without Even Knowing!

Just some weeks ago I went to my annual dental check-up. I have never been a big fan of going to the dentist – yet I acknowledge that it is very important to do on a frequent basis. With a one hour check-up you can prevent bigger damages from happening to your teeth.

At the dentist the main point was OK – I had no holes in my teeth. However, the removal of dental calculus was a bit painful operation and I decided to take care of my teeth better.

In fact, I promised that the next check-up is going to be a less painful experience. I also came up with a four step process to tackle the repeating and irritating tasks with ease – whether it is the removal of calculus or filing an annual tax report for the authorities.

1.Take action right away!

When you take care of the repeating and irritating task, promise yourself to take action right away.

For example, if it was a daunting experience to take care of your tax return to the authorities and you are going to face the same thing next year again, write down some notes what you did. This helps you to prepare for the next time (this is how I take care of my tax returns).

I remember after coming out of the dentists practice, that I promised to take care of my teeth better. In fact, my dentist gave me some special tooth picks to keep the space between my teeth clean.

2.Let the pain motivate you

Sometimes the painful experience can motivate you and you learn you lesson well.

For me, the unpleasant experience of the removal of dental calculus was enough. Ok, so the experience was not as painful as patching the hole in your teeth, but yet it was painful enough for me to learn my lesson.

The pain I experienced was my motivator: I don’t want to experience that again.

3.Execute pre-emptive action steps and create a habit

To tackle the irritating task before it is coming, you have to take action on a frequent basis and create a habit out of the preventive action steps.

In the dental scenario, the action steps were to clean my teeth with a special toothpick.

To make the habit stick, I remembered the pain I had to go through when sitting in the dentist chair. That made me to schedule my teeth cleaning sessions for every week from now on.

4.Take care of the task with least effort

Most of the time we procrastinate on taking care of those irritating tasks. As soon as the task is not done, it is in our mind and we have to spend your energy on thinking about it.

If this is happening to you, try get the task out of the way as quickly as possible. For example my dentist sends me an invitation to come to the check-up automatically. This happens at the beginning of each year. Naturally I try to make it so that the appointment is not postponed (thus I don’t have to waste my energy of that unpleasant thing at all).

Same thing it is with every other task that is a daunting one: the more you procrastinate, the more energy you spend on thinking the task and you are just teasing yourself. Try to take care of the task as quickly as possible. Once you have dealt with the task, you can erase it from your mind.

Conclusion

Everyone faces irritating tasks that on just has to deal with. Sometimes those tasks are even recurring (for example taxation issues).

To take care of those kinds of tasks with least effort, it is time to create some pre-emptive habits that make the unpleasant task less painful.

I wanted to share my four step process of handling these kinds of tasks with my dentist example. The process is simple and it will help you to be prepared for your task with less stress than before.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Figure out your irritating and repeating tasks
  • Create a preparation plan for those tasks. Eventually when you deal with the task, it is much easier than what it was before (without any planning).

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • What recurring and irritating tasks you have to face on a frequent basis?
  • How do you tackle those tasks, what is your plan?

3. Spread the word:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show you how to improve your productivity when working at home and find time for the fun stuff in your life!

Comments

  1. Moi Timo,

    I have a slightly different approach to dentists. I try to go once a year, but for the last eight years I’ve “forgot” :) No but seriously, I rather think about the positive results that come from doing the task at hand.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Moi Peter :)

      Well… that is a great strategy too :)

      I actually “forgot” to go to dentist for many years, but then I realized I might be doing more harm to myself that way.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  2. Cool stuff, Timo.

    My favourite part about this is something few people realize, you said “a task that remains in our mind takes energy.”

    This is by far my recommended take-away from this article.

    Follow Timo’s steps, don’t let something suck your energy for days, weeks, months :)

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Jason,

      This is true. The longer you keep avoiding the task, you keep thinking about it and it is wasting your mental energy.

      The sooner the task is done, the faster you can mentally detach from it.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  3. A timely reminder! Though I find the pleasure of being organised as much of a motivator as the pain :)

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Gemma,

      Pain can be a great motivator – you are trying to everything to avoid the situation occurring the next time.

      That’s why it is important to take action while the pain is clearly on your mind.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  4. I’d liken this to the band-aid technique. You know it’s going to sting a bit, so the best thing to do is just rip it off and get it over with.

    We’re faced with all sorts of situations, events, and even conversations, that we aren’t necessarily looking forward to. Taking that first step to do something about it (and as you mentioned, creating an action plan) can bring about great, and even surprising results.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Jason,

      That is true. Take action as quickly as you can – while the pain is still in your memory. That way you can make the next “pain” a bit smoother :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  5. Hi Timo,
    Action is the central point for everything, because without it, nothing gets accomplished. I would just add one more thing. Before starting the action part it is better to filter the actions, many times items are left hanging in our head while they don’t require any action, but because we keep them as is, our brain believes that there is something to do and won’t close the file….

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Christine,

      Yes, that is a good point!

      Erasing unnecessary actions is necessary so that you can focus on those real action steps that needs to be executed.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  6. Do the most important task first. It’s a simple productivity rule, but one that’s difficult to follow, at least for me. My daily to-do list usually consists of at least 5-10 tasks. I tend to do the least important ones first because it’s easier and I can complete them faster and get it crossed off my list.

    However, like you said in #4, I end up wasting a lot of time and energy thinking about the most important task that I still need to do. I like what Leo Babauta of Zen Habits said in a recent interview. He said that he only has ONE thing on his daily to-do list. It’s the most important thing that he has to get accomplished THAT day. Everything else can wait. I think we should all strive for that.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Jeanne,

      That is a good way of tackling your to-do list: when you get smaller tasks out of the way, you are gaining momentum and get ready to tackle those bigger tasks too.

      Hopefully at some point I can reach the same point as Leo: having only one task on my list :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

    • Being productive is so difficult, tried and test many methods but I agree with Leo that deciding one big thing per day is the most productive way. I also read some where that CEO’s of most big co-operations follow the same rule. (One big thing per day that’s it)

      But when following this formula, make sure that one thing worth your full day :-)

  7. Great advice Timo, I think more often than not we are guilty of procrastinating. Where if we would have taken action sooner, we would be much better off.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Steve,

      Thank you!

      Sure, the sooner the task is done, you can then free-up your brain capacity for something else.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  8. “Same thing with every daunting task: the more you procrastinate, the more energy you spend on thinking the task and you are just teasing yourself. Try to take care of the task as quickly as possible. ”

    Ha! If you tell a procrastinator to read that he’ll say: ‘Yes.. later.. maybe..’

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Kitty,

      Yeah … I bet that is the response!

      You know, I used to be like that. Then I just realized that I’m making things harder on myself this way :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  9. Timo,

    Excellent thoughts here. I try to get this repetitive but important stuff out of the way first thing in the morning… Because you know over the course of a day things will come up that take you off your intended plan.

    Thanks,

    Ryan H.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Thank you Ryan!

      I have also noticed that those small things tend to become big ones if I don’t take care of the right away.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  10. The only thing about repetitive tasks is that you have to have the will to complete them. Every now and then something good comes from it.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Michael,

      That’s why I like to do those nasty things as soon as possible – at least for me, the longer it takes for me to do those, the more will power it takes.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  11. Can you believe that I wrote (almost) exactly the same thing one year ago? You can read it here: http://www.pathtoenlightenment.net/2011/01/the-cat-the-dentist-and-the-lawn

    At least it tells me that I’m not alone in this Universe! :)

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Diego,

      Wow … how cool is that!!

      Yeah, I checked your article and it’s funny to realize that we indeed talked about this almost at the same time (but with one year difference) :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

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