I spent the majority of my undergraduate college years living at home. One day, I was talking to my grandfather while he was working in his woodshop behind our house. I’m sure I was whining and moaning and complaining about my homework to him when he just quietly said, “Do the hardest thing first and then everything else will be easier.”
I didn’t understand him (a little slow on the uptake…I wanted enabling with my whining and he was giving me wisdom!). He then patiently explained that if I do the hardest task first and get it out of the way, everything else will seem easy in comparison.
I wish I could say that I always follow his advice. But I can be the Queen of Procrastination if there is a task I don’t want to do. In graduate school, my whole apartment would get cleaned–spotless–in an effort to avoid writing a major paper. I would tell My Honey that I was letting the information percolate in my mind as I cleaned.
Psychologist David Premack developed the Premack Principle. This principle can be summarized as “the Grandma rule:” First you do what I want you to do and then you can do what you want to do. I’m sure many lima beans (*shudder*) have been eaten because of the Premack Principle. We can use this principle on ourselves, too. I set my timer for 45 minutes. The timer keeps me focused because I know that at the end of those 45 minutes, I will get to go online or read or do something I enjoy for 15 minutes. Of course, when all of my tasks are completed, I then basically have the rest of the day to do what I enjoy doing.
As homemakers, it is easy to put off cleaning that bathroom because of all of the other things with seemingly equal importance that need to be done. But, we clean the bathroom because we prefer it to the alternative. And, when we get that kind of stuff out of the way first, it makes the day go by a lot easier because we don’t have it hanging over our heads.
It takes self-discipline at the beginning but the outcome makes it completely worthwhile. Do the hardest thing first, everything else will seem easy in comparison, and then do what we want to do as a reward for our hard work.
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