If you are having one of those days or maybe even one of those weeks, even small things can make a difference and make you feel happier.
A trick I use if I am feeling flat is to force myself to do a task I have been putting off for sometime. You know the type of tasks I mean? They aren’t big tasks, nor are they necessarily super hard tasks, but for some reason they are tasks that you seem to continually put off. For me I tend to put off tasks I find boring. Thinks like claiming back health fund expenses, admin stuff for the business, etc.
When you have a number of key or important things to do each day, it is easy to justify leaving these tasks alone. They aren’t important or urgent, therefore they fall to the bottom of the list. But at some point they do have to be done and you know those tasks are there waiting and knowing this can weigh you down.
If you have many of these tasks lurking in the background, the cumulative impact they can have on your happiness can build. If you start thinking about all your outstanding tasks on a day when your not feeling great or are feeling disorganised, it makes you feel even worse.
So the trick is, when you are feeling like this force yourself to do one of those tasks. Choose something you know will take no more than 15 minutes and just get it done.
Once you have finished it, you will instantly feel a little happier. There will be one less thing weighing on your mind and through our love of completion bias, you will get a little surge of happiness, possibly enough even to kick start a better mood.
Completion bias is explained is this great article on HBR:
One of the main reasons this happens is that human brains are wired to seek completion and the pleasure it brings — a tendency we term “completion bias.” Completing simple tasks, such as answering emails or posting updates on your Twitter account, takes little time and allows you to check off items on your to-do list. Our ongoing research (not yet published) has found that checking off items is psychologically rewarding: After you complete a task, being able to literally check a box makes you happier than when you are not given a box to check.
You will find on many occasions when you force yourself to do one task you don’t really want to do, you get on a roll and whip through a number of tasks you have been putting off without having to force it.
Note that this tip is for those situations where you need a little boost. It isn’t an excuse to allow you to procrastinate and do the little things to avoid working on more important tasks. As the article highlights if you let your completion bias dictate what you do all the time, it can be unproductive.
Like in everything we do, we need to be honest with ourselves and be conscious about what we choose to work on when.