Mastering the Fine Art of Sandwich Productivity

When you’re avoiding an awful task on your to-do list, you might find little things to occupy your time so you don’t have to do it.

You might start a load of laundry, take a walk around the block, or make a sandwich.

Well, that sandwich is a fabulous idea, but not how you think! I want you to use the sandwich method to knock out every nagging item on your to-do list.

Put down the bread and mayo. There’s a new type of sandwich in town. 🙂

Watch this video to learn how to amp up your productivity with the sandwich method.

The video transcript is below for your convenience.

Next Steps

Video Transcript

Hey there! I’m Sage Grayson, a former book editor turned life coach. I help ambitious career women edit their habits, routines, and mindsets to balance their happiness at work and home.

I’m a Life Editor…and so are you!

Today, we’re talking about how to amp up your productivity by using the sandwich method. Let’s go!

In an ideal world, everything we do would bring us joy and happiness. There would be no laundry, no angry customers, no whining kids, and no commuting to and from the office in a never-ending cycle.

But this is reality, and there will always be things we’d rather not do. We want to ignore those frustrating projects, procrastinate a little bit longer, and maybe erase them from our to-do lists.

Here’s the truth: the longer you put off doing those awful tasks, the worse they’re going to get. It’s like you’re on a sinking ship and you’re hoping the gaping hole that’s rapidly filling with water will just disappear if you don’t look at it.

Stop hiding! We’re going to tackle your to-do list and knock out each and every one of those terrible projects. But we’re going to do so in a way that nurtures your physical and mental health so you can be the best you possible.

Let me introduce you to the sandwich method. You may already be familiar with sandwiching a negative comment between 2 positive compliments.

“Thanks for letting housesit for you. Your home is beautiful!”

“I accidentally left your back door open and now your house is full of raccoons.”

“Look, I made cookies!”

The idea is to lessen the impact of the middle thing by creating a buffer of positivity on either side. So what does this have to do with your to-do list?

The sandwich method for productivity involves sandwiching a task you’re procrastinating on in between a treat and a reward.

Here’s how to get your sandwich on!

1. Give Yourself a Treat

I mentioned in a previous video the difference between treats and rewards, but here’s a refresher.

Treats are free or inexpensive things you give yourself simply because you’re a human being. You get treats just for being you, and you don’t have to earn them.

An obvious treat might be a fun coffee drink at the start of your workday. Or maybe a walk around the block with you dog. Or maybe a new gratitude journal.

A small, inexpensive treat is essential to put you in a good mood without spending a ton of money. A shopping spree when you’re avoiding your work is only going to make you feel bad later.

When you’ve got your treat and you’re feeling good, then it’s time to move into the center of the sandwich.

2. Do the Awful Thing

Now that you’ve soothed yourself with a lovely little treat, it’s time to gather up all your strength and actually do the thing you’ve been dreading.

Productivity expert Brian Tracy calls this the “eat that frog” method. You gotta take a bite out of whatever nasty thing is sitting at the top of your to-do list.

When I’m doing something particularly stressful or mind-numbing, I like to set a timer for 10 minutes. You can do anything for 10 minutes! And using a timer creates this underlying sense of urgency so you’re constantly racing the clock.

Stay focused until the awful thing is completely finished. You don’t want to leave any piece undone or else you’ll be back in the same position tomorrow.

It’s going to be OK. I believe in you!

3. Give Yourself a Fantastic Reward

Oh my gosh, you did it! You emailed that bad client, sent off the 100-page report, or finally cleaned up your closet. I’m so proud of you for finishing that dreaded task.

Now here’s the good part! Give yourself a fantastic reward for toughing it out and being a professional.

A reward is different than a treat. While a treat is inexpensive or free and given simply become you’re a human being, a reward is bigger, costs money, and must be earned through concentrated effort.

Why does a reward cost money? Because it’s got to be meaningful. It should feel like a super special reward that you just can’t get any time you want.

A physical object like a new ring or an experience like a trip to Hawaii will give you something to strive for. Imagine how much easier it will be to finish that awful project when you’ve got a new laptop waiting for you at the end.

How much money you spend on your reward is up to you and your budget. Make sure it feel congruent to the amount of effort you put into the project.

Maybe you’ll go to the movies with your friends after firing a problem client. Maybe you’ll go on a cruise after giving a presentation in front of the entire company that lands you a big promotion.

Sandwich productivity works by cushioning your dreaded tasks with nurturing treats and rewards. Life can be tough sometimes, so give yourself permission to be good to you.

That’s it! This week, pick one awful task to sandwich between a treat and a reward. How can you make this nagging project less of a hassle?

If you want even more productivity tips to help you get stuff done in less time, you gotta check out my time management program for entrepreneurs, Startup In 60. You’ll learn how to go from idea to fully functioning business in just 60 days, whether you have 60 minutes or 60 seconds per day. 

This post focuses on Step 5 of the Life Editing Process, Make White Space for Personal Self-Care. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.