Setting aside that largest and most important assignment to the last minute, whether it be in the workplace or at school, doesn’t sound like a biggie when you are keeping yourself occupied with other small, mundane tasks. You’re still being productive with your time, right?
Wrong. Due date looms and you’re scrambling to complete that assignment, relinquishing the fact that you clearly underestimated the time and effort needed to finish it.
Staying committed to what matters most can be difficult when presented with a variety of tedious tasks throughout the day.
But, how can you change this?
Small tasks that can be easily ticked off the to-do list give us that immediate but temporary buzz of satisfaction, and the pleasure of this tends to signal that we are being productive (which is not necessarily true!).
Don’t get us wrong, small wins are certainly motivating and shouldn’t be discredited – however, completion bias – where the brain specifically seeks the hit of dopamine one gets from completing a task – can deter us from striving for the completion of larger, more important tasks.
Smaller, quicker tasks to complete = more frequent doses of dopamine, and so the completion bias tends to nudge us towards easy-to-complete tasks, leaving the larger and more difficult tasks missing a tick off from the to-do list.
So how do you not let the completion bias deter you from important, meaningful work?
You should set out a method that acknowledges your progress.
“Most of us make advances small and large every single day, but we fail to notice them because we lack a method for acknowledging our progress. This is a huge loss.”Teresa Amabile
Plan Your Progress To Stay Purposeful
“It’s important to know your priorities… that may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t identify their top three to five priorities — or fail to change how they structure their workdays when priorities change”Gino and Staats
Making plans and tracking progress is incredibly important for productivity.
Acknowledging both what you have done (progress) and what you are doing (plan) enables you to reflect on your effort and to have more insight into the value you are creating. This naturally makes you more purposeful and mindful about the work you do.
When you don’t set in place methods for tracking progress, you lose the ability to set meaningful, effective goals – your days instead end up being filled with meaningless work.
Minimising context-switching of the brain with smaller tasks and being more thoughtful in what one does correlates with an increase in the completion of higher utility tasks and allows one to dive deeper in the notion of ‘quality over quantity’ – deterring us from the cons of the completion bias.
Ways To Keep Track Of Your Progress
- Break up large tasks into smaller chunks: By doing this, you can reek in the frequent buzz of satisfaction achieved from completing smaller chunks which can act as massive motivators and push you towards fully completing the large task.
- Establish regular and consistent reviews: Installing weekly or monthly reviews to reflect on the busy work life can help ensure that “what matters most” is kept top of mind. Highs and lows of the workweek can be contemplated to ensure that improvements are made in the future.
- Set smaller daily quotas: Finishing the day with 80% of the work still ahead of you can be disheartening – start each day with a brand new daily quota that can be achieved as a forward motion.
- Use Ceed to track progress on specific goals and projects: Ceed can help you achieve your long-term goals by supporting you on a day-to-day basis. Through the app, Ceed checks up on you every day to make sure you stay focused on your personal goals and desired habits.
Ultimately, staying committed to what matters most relies on the valuable insight of your progress, where one can plan the development of purposeful work. Without this methodology, completion bias can detain us from working on large, important tasks and instead propel us towards smaller, easy-to-complete tasks.