Maybe this is the last suggestion you want to hear. But there’s a good reason to start with the tough stuff. “We have a limited, depletable supply of willpower and resources,” says Piers Steel, Ph.D., a professor of human resources and organizational dynamics at the University of Calgary and the author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done ($26, amazon.com). Attack the hardest task when your energy is fresh and you give yourself the strongest chance of success. Doing otherwise can have a damaging domino effect. “Putting off the dreaded item on your list saps your strength,” says Eva Wisnik, who conducts time-management training for lawyers and corporations in New York City. Ultimately all your other tasks suffer—stressing over that worst thing “makes you not completely present with anything else,” says Wisnik. So identify and get started on the most heinous project, which is not necessarily the biggest job but the baddest. “Checking it off will make you feel super-productive,” says Wisnik, thus infusing with you with gung-ho, it’s-all-downhill-from-here enthusiasm.
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