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Dread doing it? 5 ways to nudge yourself

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With dreaded tasks hanging over your head, you’ll feel more drained and uneasy than if you just tackle them, says Gretchen Rubin.

Rubin spent a year test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier, then wrote a book about it, called The Happiness Project.

Next time you don’t feel like making that phone call or going to the gym, try these strategies:

1. Do it first thing in the morning. “You’re going to be able to think of more creative excuses as the day goes along,” says Rubin. “No delay is the best way.”

2. Make it a daily habit. Sometimes it’s easier to do something every day rather than less frequently. A friend of Rubin’s convinced her to write on her blog every day rather than doing it two or three times a week. It worked—“there’s no dithering,” she says.

3. Assemble the right tools. Clear off your desk or gather the materials you need to do the work.

“There’s a wonderful term that chefs use: mise en place, French for ‘everything in place,’” Rubin says. “It describes the preparation done before starting to cook: gathering ingredients and implements, chopping, measuring, etc.” It’s also a state of mind. It means you’re truly ready to begin to work.

4. Write down your goal. On a piece of paper, write, “By the end of today, July 9, I will have _____.”

5. Remind yourself that finishing a dreaded task is tremendously energizing. Says Rubin, “Studies show that hitting a goal releases chemicals in the brain that give you pleasure. You’ll get a big lift from it.”

— Adapted from “Six Tips for Forcing Yourself to Tackle a Dreaded Task,” Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project.

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