How to start big tasks (terrible tasks)?

Do you experience difficulty starting big or challenging tasks? Are you procrastinating on those tasks? You plan them for later, but if ‘later’ arrives, you lack motivation?

Why are you procrastinating big or difficult tasks?

Fear. Sheer fear. 

With a small task, you can oversee whether you will succeed or not. You know: ‘I can do this!’ and you get a quick confirmation of that belief every time you finish a small task.

A big task, however, is a different game. It is hard to estimate whether you will succeed or not. For example: if you are not a regular runner and someone asks you to run a quarter-mile, you probably say that you can do it. How about a marathon? Or even a quarter marathon? You would not even start. Too scary. This is the fear of failure at work. You’d better process this one email, or check your social media stream.

You’re in good company

I hear this problem a lot from time management trainees, and I experience it myself too. Small tasks are easy to finish and give you immediate gratification. Big tasks require putting in a lot of effort with a delayed reward. Even if you know, it is an important task, starting and finishing can be difficult.

Surprise yourself 

You can keep avoiding big tasks. Yes, why not. Don’t reach your goals and desires. Avoid personal growth. Ignore the big rewards you could get when finishing big, valuable tasks. Keep going in shallow daily treadmill tasks. Why not?

You trade short term comfort for long term satisfaction and results. Big results. Feeling fulfilled. You can learn how to start bigger tasks en enjoy the ride. You’d be surprised how much you can do.

Proven tips to start big tasks

Apply these simple steps to reduce your fear and get started. You can apply them as separate tips and choose the one you like best. You can also combine them for maximum effect.

  1. 1st small step
    Define the first small step you can take. E.g., plan a timeslot, send an email or gather info. Knowing what to do (easy to do) will help you get started. Once you do this first small step you will know what to do next. Define the second step and do or plan that one. Step by step you will work your way through the big task.

  2. Start your day with this task
    After planning your day, and a cup of coffee or tea, start on the big task. Pushing it to the end of the day will end up in not doing it and frustration.

  3. Limit exposure
    If you dislike working on this task, limit the time you work on it. It makes it less scary and easier to start. And if you are in a nice flow, you can continue. If not: plan the next timeslot (e.g., tomorrow).
One more

Okay, because it is you. One more tip. 

You might be able to delegate your big task. If that’s an option, do it. If you don’t have someone to delegate the task to, delegate it to yourself. It works like this. You prepare this big task for delegation: you gather info, set a clear goal, define desired deliverables, express timing expectations, and identify support options (e.g., expert help). The preparation package should be ready for the delegation to someone with your skills. 

And then…, you do it yourself. Doing this preparation will take away fear and spark motivation: ‘I know what to do now! Let’s get started!’

Good luck.


In our TimeSaver course you learn how to prioritize and execute what matters most to you and will have the biggest impact on you, the people around you and on your inner peace.

Leave a Reply