“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” ― Mark Twain
From this rather graphic Mark Twain quote came the title of Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done In Less Time.
What happens when we have a task looming that we know we have to do, but we really don’t want to do it? We become pre-occupied with it, spending much more time thinking about the task than it would often take to just do it. This becomes a huge time waster. It takes away from our focus on other tasks that we might decide to do instead, but we might not do them as well as we could because our attention is diverted to that big, ugly frog. William James wrote “Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.”
Most of us are held accountable for our work performance, and would like to increase productivity and learn how to really utilize professional presence to improve our personal and professional lives. We may have goals that we are expected to achieve, or quotas to meet. By avoiding the tasks that we don’t like to do, even though they may be necessary to the achievement of those goals, we expose ourselves to the possibility of being viewed as a less valuable employee. And that’s the last thing we want!
What if we just have a tendency to procrastinate, and we don’t really understand why? The phrase “Just do it!” comes to mind. Instead of over-thinking why we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do, we may just have to acknowledge the fact that we’re putting off the inevitable, and even though we don’t understand it, we really need to move on.
Tracy gave us some great strategies to help overcome the tendency to do nothing, or to avoid the task we hate to do. The simple summary:
- Make a list
- Circle the frog
- Eat it!
Tracy also gives us a step by step method of achieving a goal:
- Think on paper!
- Decide exactly what you want
- One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all!
- Write it down!
- Set a deadline on your goal
- Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal
- Organize the list into a plan
- Take action on your plan immediately!
- Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal.
As we start each day and look at the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to move us closer to our goals, the “frogs” on that list will jump out at us. The biggest, ugliest frog is the one we must do first, in order to be as productive as possible throughout the rest of the day.
Perhaps a little motivation is necessary for us to even get to the point of making the list of tasks that need to be completed in order to be successful at our jobs. Asking some of the following questions may be helpful:
- Why does this task need to be accomplished?
- What will be the result of completing this task
- For me?
- For my company?
- What will happen if I don’t complete this task?
- What does this job mean to me?
- Why do I need to be successful in/keep this job?
By focusing on our “why”, we remember the importance of doing our job well. By following Tracy’s advice to “Eat that Frog”, we can end each day with a feeling of accomplishment.