How good does it feel to check things off of your to-do list? Do you find yourself completing the short tasks first as you can cross them off your list sooner, and then move on to more challenging, time-consuming tasks? Research shows you are not alone.
UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Brad Staats and Harvard Business School’s Francesca Gino have put a lot of thought into the way we complete our tasks and in which order. They found that our brains are wired to want to complete tasks in an effort to “check the box” which brings pleasure and a feeling of accomplishment. The drive to complete shorter tasks first though may undermine our effectiveness.
In our research we asked a group of over 500 employees from a wide range of industries to spend the first few minutes of their workday writing down the tasks they wanted to accomplish throughout the day and to complete them in the order they wrote them down. Two-thirds of the employees were also asked to check off their tasks as they completed them, and half of that group was instructed to write down a couple of quick, mundane tasks at the top of their lists (e.g., responding to an urgent email). All employees kept track of their work for two weeks.
Want to know the results? Click here to read the entire article from the Harvard Business Review titled, Your Desire to Get Things Done Can Undermine Your Effectiveness.
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