How To Motivate Yourself to Complete Difficult Tasks


By Neal Burgis, Ph.D. 

As a leader you have tasks and responsibilities that you really don’t like to do and would not want to either. Besides delegating those tasks and responsibilities, what can you do about them?

Leadership is not just about leading people, it also involves solving problems and finding solutions to challenges. This means that there are certain tasks that cannot be delegated, you have to carry out these specific tasks.

I bet when you accepted the job as leader you didn’t expect to work on specific tasks you really hate or dislike! Well, here you are doing the things you need to do even though you would prefer to give them away to others but cannot.

As a leader of people, or as leader of your company how difficult do you see the tasks you perform? Some tasks are easier than others and some not so much.

“When you come upon a difficult task… start.” – Harbhajan Singh Yogi

Completing the Tasks on Your Plate

Completing the tasks you do not feel like doing is not a new concept. Working on easier tasks requires a smaller mental commitment than if you tackled difficult tasks first. Most people believe that working on easier tasks first works best as you then have more time to spend on difficult tasks.

Successful leadership holds you accountable for the work you need to do just like with your team or employees. The high impact and best-performing companies have leaders instill confidence in their employees to do the work the employees believe is difficult for them.

Getting people to actually want to do the tasks you need them to do can be a challenge. People who have not fully committed to their tasks need the motivation to help move them forward. Many leaders need to be motivated to complete their tasks.

In order to be productive, you need to accomplish things that may not be enjoyable as you would like them to be, yet to get to the fun parts of your job, first of all, you need to prioritize your tasks.

Procrastination or Delegating your Tasks to Others

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” -William James

Procrastinating what you don’t like does not make the task go away. The task will be left undone as long as you procrastinate. Actually the easiest thing to do is to complete the task once and for all.

Break Down Your Task into Small Pieces

“A little bit of something beats a lot of nothing. Break the largest of difficult tasks into the smallest of steps and it can be done.” -Dan Millman

Getting started is the hard part. We typically avoid tasks we hate for as long as possible. When we finally get started, we might get stuck. Overcome this by only focussing on carrying out “the next step.”

Identify and take that all-important first step. Take small steps to make the task more enjoyable and always look for smart ways to optimize it.

“When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.” -Karen Blixen

Inspire Others

“Approach difficult tasks with a positive attitude – you’ll inspire others and feel better about what’s ahead.” -Denise Austin

Give me an example of a time when you had to motivate someone else who also dislikes doing the difficult tasks of their job.

When you love or hate a task that does not inspire you, that is your perception of the task. You typically complete tasks you like because the experience is enjoyable and the task feels easy to complete. The task gives you a sense of satisfaction.

With this in mind, there are many different ways to achieve the same thing. Encourage yourself to do something you hate doing. Then change the task to make it more enjoyable. Essentially motivate yourself to complete the task by thinking of more effective and efficient ways to get the job done. After you complete your own task, give yourself a small reward. Inspire others in the same way.

Give It Meaning

“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” -Theodore Isaac Rubin

Start with a task you dislike and turn it into a task you are compelled to do by asking yourself an important question: “In completing this task what does it mean in the grand scheme of what I do as a leader?”

You dread doing them and as a result, you don’t which leads you to procrastination. The only problem is that the tasks in question still need to get done. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get them out of the way. Don’t create any more stress on yourself than you already have.

Make the Most Out of Your Time

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca

Realize that the tasks you hate are essential to your overall success. You wouldn’t do them if they weren’t. Sometimes the most boring tasks are those you repeat over and over again. How can you best complete the tasks you dislike? A solution is to give yourself a little reward when you complete them.

“Remember that the most difficult tasks are consummated, not by a single explosive burst of energy or effort, but by the constant daily application of the best you have within you.” -Og Mandino

If you are having difficulty completing important tasks or changing for greater efficiency, contact us for a Free 30 minute Complimentary Session at We also help clients Get Unstuck and Reduce Business Complexity.