Why do you keep pushing that task?

By Deanna deBara | Published October 27, 2021

We all find ourselves avoiding tasks for a variety of reasons, but what can you do to roll up your sleeves, get things done, and cross that task off your to-do list once and for all?


design a better processIn a perfect world, you'd be able to check every item off your to-do list every day. But we don't live in an ideal world—and, chances are, there have been days when you've had to push a task or two from today's to-do list onto tomorrow's.

But, sometimes, things go further than that. What starts as pushing a task from today to tomorrow shifts to pushing that task into next week, next month...and before you know it, it's six months later and that task is still hanging out on the bottom of your to-do list.

So, the question is, why do you keep bumping that task—and, more importantly, what can you do to roll up your sleeves, get things done, and cross that task off your to-do list once and for all?

You have too many tasks on your to-do list.

Sometimes, the reason you keep bumping a particular task is a simple one: you have too many tasks on your to-do list.

There's only so much time in the day. If you have too many tasks on your to-do list on any given day, at least one or two are inevitably going to get bumped—and if you're continually trying to juggle too many tasks, those same tasks are going to continue to get bumped.

What to do if you find yourself in this situation

If the reason you keep bumping tasks is that your to-do list has more tasks than you can handle, it's time to prioritize and pare down.

The Eisenhower Box is an excellent strategy for prioritizing tasks—and making sure the number of items on your to-do list every day is, well...doable. 

When using the Eisenhower Box to evaluate tasks, you need to ask yourself two questions: 

  • Is this task urgent? 
  • Is this task important?

Based on your answers, you'll then separate your tasks into one of four quadrants—and, based on where the task lands, take a specific action:

  • Urgent and Important. These tasks should take priority—and should move to the top of your to-do list.
  • Not Urgent and Important. These tasks need to get done, just not right now—so you'll want to schedule them for a later time.
  • Urgent and Not Important. These tasks need to get done now, but you can delegate them to someone else because they're less critical.
  • Not Urgent and Not Important. If a task isn't urgent or important, you can get rid of it completely.

The point is, if you've got too many tasks on your plate, you're not going to be able to get everything done—and you'll keep bumping tasks to try to keep up. The Eisenhower Box gives you a way to evaluate whether a) those tasks need to be on today's to-do list, or b) they need to be on your to-do list at all—which can help ride your schedule of unnecessary or non-urgent tasks and keep your daily task list more manageable.

pushing tasks too much information

You don't know how to complete the task.

You check a task off your to-do list once it's completed. But if you're not sure how, exactly, to complete the task, you may feel like your only option is to keep bumping it—until you (hopefully) have a better understanding of how to get it done in the future.

What to do if you find yourself in this situation

If you're unsure how to complete a task on your to-do list, you need to stop bumping that task and start getting answers around what needs to be done.

How you get those answers will depend on the task. For example, if you keep bumping a project-related task because you're not 100 percent clear on what your manager expects, schedule a meeting–and ask them to talk you through exactly what they need. Or, if you've been procrastinating signing up for a professional development course because you're not sure what you need to do to enroll, add a reminder to your calendar to read through the course's FAQ section or to send an email to an enrollment advisor.

You don't want to complete the task.

Suppose you find yourself continually bumping a task. In that case, particularly one that fills you with apprehension, frustration, or dread when you think about doing it—chances are, your procrastination could be a signal that the task at hand isn't really one you want to take on.

Or, in other words, that task you keep bumping? You don't want to do it.

What to do if you find yourself in this situation

Unfortunately, most people have to take on tasks they aren't thrilled about; it's par for the course in the working world. If you find yourself continually bumping a dreaded task on your to-do list, one way to stop the bumping–and start getting it done? Break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks—and knock those off your to-do list one by one.

For example, let's say you have to write an article for your company's blog—a task you find stressful and overwhelming, which has led to you continually bumping the task. Instead of trying to tackle the whole article at once, try breaking it down into tasks that don't feel so stressful or overwhelming (for example, "schedule interview for article quotes," "create an outline," and "write introduction")—and then tackle those tasks one at a time.

Breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable action items can make it easier to progress on tasks you're not excited about—instead of continuing to bump that task to a future to-do list.

For example, if you have a report to write, break it down into smaller parts like:

  1. Research/gather data
  2. Organize notes
  3. Create outline
  4. Write introduction
  5. Write the first section
  6. Write the second section
  7. Write the third section
  8. Format document

If this is a task you will perform again, save these steps to re-use each time.

Stop pushing that task—and start getting things done

It can be frustrating when you find yourself continually bumping a task; the fact that the task isn't getting done can feel draining and discouraging. But now that you know the reasons why you may be bumping that task—and what to do about it—you have everything you need to (finally!) cross that task off your to-do list for good. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get those tasks done!

Deanna deBara

Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at deannadebara.com.

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