Productivity: Eat That Frog
by Amy O'Quinn
Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat that frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Another source also quoted him as saying, “If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.”
Eating frogs? That doesn’t sound very appetizing, and frankly, it’s not something most people would consider doing. But Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog, takes Mark Twain’s words to a whole new level—and it’s all about productivity and overcoming procrastination. The premise behind his motivational book is that if you tackle your most important, hardest, or challenging task of the day, first thing in the morning, before doing ANYTHING else, you will be more productive. Doing the ‘worst first’ probably takes away the thing causing you to procrastinate anyway, and motivation and momentum are set at high speed. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing the worst thing you’ll have to do all day has already been done! The task that is bottlenecking your day will be removed.
Why We Procrastinate
People procrastinate for many reasons, but probably the most common are fear of failure, perfectionism, poor work habits, the feeling of being overwhelmed, or simply not being committed enough to the task at hand. And sometimes we’d just rather being doing something else! But when we procrastinate, we get behind and stay behind, and this can cause even bigger problems down the road. However, it is possible to learn how to overcome these procrastination tendencies.
Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Increasing Productivity
Make a list of everything that needs to be done, then prioritize the tasks and projects by importance or due dates. Projects or jobs with deadlines are usually easier to prioritize. Give YOURSELF a deadline if you must, but treat it as an executive order.
Record these deadlines or due dates on a calendar. Take the most important (or first) thing on the list and determine how long it will take to complete the task. Then backtrack to the date/time you need to start in order to finish on time. Do allow some margin for the unexpected. Do this with each task/job/project on your list.
Break down each task into manageable bites (or frogs). For example, if you are writing an article, give yourself deadlines for research, interviews, first drafts, revisions, final copy, etc. Each part of the job becomes its own frog that must be eaten—in a certain time frame.
Each morning choose the biggest, ugliest, worst tasting frog (task) and get started! Don’t stop until that ‘frog’ is completely eaten and the task is done. Get the right mindset, summon up some determination, and just do it!
What Not to Do
Most of us naturally choose to do the easiest things on our list first. For most of us, it stands to reason that knocking off the simplest things clears the way to tackle the hard things. Right? We want to gravitate towards our ‘favorite tasks’ such as checking/sending emails, making phone calls, updating social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or finding out what’s going on in world news, etc. But before we know it, we’ve used up precious time and energy on things that CAN wait. Plus, our enthusiasm usually wanes, and that nasty frog is staring at us, still waiting to be consumed. It just gets harder to ‘stuff the thing in our mouths and start chewing’—and we procrastinate. It can become a vicious cycle. So why not just start with the worst or hardest task? Eat that frog first thing and get it out of the way!
The satisfaction you get from finishing a hard or distasteful task will far outweigh the bad taste of the frog you have to consume.
According to Brian Tracy:
“In the final analysis, success in any area requires tons of discipline. Self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-control are the basic building blocks of character and high performance.”
“Persistence is actually self-discipline in action. The good news is that the more you discipline yourself to persist on a major task, the more you like and respect yourself, and the higher is your self-esteem. And more you like and respect yourself, the easier it is for you to discipline yourself to persist even more.”
So resolve to take action. Stop procrastinating. Pick the hardest or most difficult task on your daily list and get started on it first thing every morning. Chip away and persist until it is done. Your productivity will increase exponentially, and you’ll have the motivation to keep on going.
What are you waiting for?
EAT THAT FROG!
About the Book
The legendary Eat That Frog! (more than 450,000 copies sold and translated into 23 languages) provides the 21 most effective methods for conquering procrastination and accomplishing more. This new edition is revised and updated throughout, and includes brand new information on how to keep technology from dominating our time.
*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.