I have a tendency to put off easy tasks. A task could take less than a few minutes of my time, but I will procrastinate on it regardless. Starting it can have the same mental hurdle as a large project.

To counter this tendency, I’ve started adding a t-shirt size rating on my task list. In a column next to each task, I add a rating as you would see on a t-shirt, such as S for small or XL for extra large. It’s so simple, but I’ve found it to be very effective.

I use a task list to remember things, prioritize them, and for motivation. Seeing a task get crossed off feels good. If I see an XS rating next to a task, I now know that I can get that reward with minimal effort. The result: I actually do the task instead of letting it slide.

While I consider this a positive change, I want to be aware of any perverse incentives. So far, I haven’t had a problem with avoiding large, high priority tasks - but I will need to stay mindful of that.

It’s cool how such subtle changes can have an outsized impact on your behavior. I attribute this to a slight change in the underlying incentives. Incentives are very exciting, and something that deserves a few posts.