When we set out to start doing a task, it can be easy to automatically put it aside, because it’s difficult, confusing, overwhelming, uncomfortable.

But that’s because we’re focusing on the negative part of doing the task: the discomfort of doing it.

That’s like having a kid and only thinking about all the poop you have to clean up. There are good parts too, that make the poop cleaning more than worth it.

So what we need to do, to encourage us to mindfully get started and to stick with the task, is to remind ourselves about the good things about this task before we even get started.

This is called “setting intention”.

It’s consciously pausing and deciding why you’re going to do something — to practice mindfulness, for example. This intention will then flavor every moment of doing the task — you’ll be more mindful as you do the task, in our example, because of the mindfulness intention you set at the beginning.

And while it’s easy to forget the intention once you get lost in the task, you get better and better at remembering over time.

Here are some good examples of intention you might set before doing a task:

The last is more of a Buddhist way of looking at things. :)

The other-focused intentions, like helping others or being compassionate with them, are the ones that I’ve found to work best.

Setting intention doesn’t take long: pause for a moment and think about why you even care about doing this task. Why is it important enough to be in your life?

If you don’t know, it’s a good idea to think it through: if it’s a routine task that seems meaningless, connect it to a larger purpose. For example, taking out the trash helps keep the house clean and sanitary, which helps keep you and others healthy, so you’re doing this to help your family be healthy.

Another example: you have to answer this email to move this project along, which will enable your company to produce a product that will make people’s lives better. The email might feel meaningless until you remember that it’s necessary for the larger purpose of making people’s lives better to become realized.

Take a few seconds before each task during your daily Mindful Productivity Session to set your intention, and the task will seem less of a poopy mess and more of a bundle of love.