Break up complex tasks.
Complex tasks like building a budget differ from simple ones: You can complete them more quickly and efficiently by breaking them up. Creswell found people who had to complete challenging tasks did so more effectively when they took a two-minute break and worked on something completely different – for example, doing a crossword when trying to finish your taxes. "Your brain is unconsciously processing information during distractor tasks, and it does a better job," he says. "Even a two-minute period of checking email can have a beneficial effect." But note he's not advising multitasking here – always learn the contours of a problem thoroughly before distracting yourself with a menial task for a few minutes. Also, choose something completely different from your main project. "The more distinct it is, the better," he says.