5 Unconventional Tips to Make Hard Tasks Easier

Sometimes the best way to move a boulder is by walking away

Michael Thompson
Forge
Published in
6 min readMar 1, 2022

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All was good in the world.

Until it wasn’t.

I’d just started a new sales job a few months prior, and after hundreds of rejections, I’d finally begun to catch some green lights and a few clients were getting close to closing.

Within an hour of arriving at the office though, I got hit by a string of lightning bolts in rapid succession. Not only did I receive word a deal I’d been working on for three weeks was dead in the water, but I was also on the verge of losing the only other one I had going.

“Michael!” my manager said when he heard me cursing around the office, “Get out of here and go do something that doesn’t make you feel worse!”

My manager was a quirky guy. But he seemed to be doing alright for himself so I asked him to explain his confusing advice —

“The key to getting out of a funk isn’t always found by doing something that lights us up but rather doing one thing that makes us feel slightly less miserable. Go grab some air. I guarantee when you come back you won’t feel worse than you do right now!”

At first, I wanted to fight back as my rent was due, not his. But out of options, I did what I was told.

I wasn’t exactly beaming with happiness when I came back to the office after a ten-minute walk. But I did realize my manager was onto something as the shift from feeling miserable to just slightly annoyed was a massive improvement. I could focus. I even began to laugh a little. A few hours later, my client signed off on the proposal.

Bad things happen. Human beings are notoriously annoying. Stressful days are part of the package. But that day my manager taught me a valuable lesson in that productivity isn’t about being positive all the time — sometimes it’s simply about figuring out how to be less negative.

Two decades have passed since that moment. Today, I still carry a list of activities labeled “things that don’t make

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Michael Thompson
Forge
Writer for

Co-creator of two cool kids • Storytelling Coach •.Fast Co., Insider, Forbes • Free storytelling guide here: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT