June 15

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Is the start small or tough approach better for success?

By Ralph Varcoe

June 15, 2020

productivity hacks

4.2   Small or Tough?

Productivity hack no.42 from '60 Ways to Hurray! by Ralph Varcoe.


Here is the age-old time management dilemma. Which way round do you start?

Do you start with the smallest and easiest tasks, thereby giving yourself the lift when you see how many you’ve quickly completed?

Or do you start with the hardest on the basis it will take the most effort and you should tackle it while you are freshest, then move on to the easier ones once you’ve got that brute under your belt?

Starting Small

The theory goes that if you start small or simple and move on to the next simplest then every task you ever do is the easiest of the ones you have left to complete. It’s sound logic. Keep doing the easy stuff and then it’s all easy.

Personally, I don’t like this approach because I know in my heart of hearts I’m kidding myself. I know I’m only playing at the edges and the meatier items are just lurking, waiting to pounce.

It’s like being on a gentle upward slope that gets a little steeper every time you take a step forward. Yes, the next step you take is going to be easier than the one after it but by the time you get to the end you have to jump up a vertical cliff edge.

Starting Tough

This is the macho approach. Find the toughest, psych yourself up for it and then ‘bang’, off you go. It’s like doing a Tough Mudder race, then a half marathon, followed by a 10K run, then a 5K, and finally a stroll with the dog through the woods.

Each one gets easier and the sense of achievement when the tougher ones have been finished is really worthwhile.

Just make sure that if you choose this approach you also implement the other concepts in this book so you really focus, give yourself the right breathing space and reward yourself.

My advice is to focus on the important tasks whether they are small or tough and crack on (see section 4.3).

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Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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