The discomfort of taking on difficult tasks can push you to seek out distractions, focus on busywork and procrastinate. This meditation-like exercise will help you focus on why you want to run from the hard stuff, and make you more productive overall. Photo by Dave Hosford.
You've probably heard time and time again to take on your hardest task of the day first thing, but for some reason you can't seem to do it. If that sounds like you, Leo Babauta at Zen Habits suggests you try some "pause training", which works similarly to basic meditation exercises. Start by picking one important task you have to do today. Remove yourself from as many distractions as possible, and try your hardest to focus on completing that task. As Babauta explains, your mind will want to run from the discomfort:
Now we're going to do "pause training," where instead of running from the discomfort, you pause. Breathe. Turn your attention to this discomfort — it might be fear, frustration, uncertainty, self-doubt, tiredness. Drop your story about this discomfort, and just notice how it feels physically, in your body. Where is this feeling of discomfort located? What quality does it have? You'll notice that the discomfort actually doesn't feel that bad, even though you habitually want to run from it. It's just energy. It's not actually good or bad, but just energy that's in your body, one that you normally don't want to have and normally judge as "bad."
If you keep pausing and identifying that feeling when it comes, you'll begin to realise over time that it's not a big deal and nothing to worry about. It's just there. Eventually you'll become comfortable with that discomfort, and maybe even use it as a motivator instead of a hindrance. Your difficult tasks will still be important, but you'll want to take them on instead of running from them. The whole article is worth a read so be sure to check it out at the link below.
Unconventional Productivity [Zen Habits]