Eating a frog. Paints a real picture doesn’t it? Ok, so we might not literally be talking about eating a frog, but rather we’re talking about those jobs on the to-do list that we just don’t want to face. It's almost like when you’re a child and there’s that one food on your plate that you can’t stand or don’t want to eat. My parents used to say, “Eat that bit first to get it out of the way!” Every to-do list has that one job that you don’t want to do, but here’s what Brian Tracy, writer of ‘Eat the Frog’ has to say about keeping on track with our to do list. The message is simple, sometimes there are jobs on our to-do list that need to be approached like eating a frog. Get it done first, so you don’t spend half of your day thinking or worrying about it.
Having said that, it never feels easy, especially when you’re getting started. Even if you’re feeling highly motivated to keep your business moving, your best plans can still get derailed.
To help you win the battle, we’ve combined the tips shared by Brian Tracy in his international bestseller “Eat that Frog: 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” with our own tried-and-tested productivity tips to give you the productivity short cut you deserve.
1. Don’t quit
This point is usually the last one to be made in a blog as a final encouragement. However, at Perspective Design we want to say this from the start! We know the to-do list can be overwhelming and may seen un-doable at times, but here's something to think about...
We all eagerly await the ‘Bush Tucker Trials’ in I’m a Celebrity, watching to see who will have to delve into eating the interesting local delicacies. They make us squirm and squeal, but the truth is, to win the challenge, the competitors can't quit! They just have to get on and do it! Our to-do list can be viewed in the same way. Some jobs may be less desirable than others, but the quicker we get on with it the sooner it will be over and done with. So don't quit before it's done!
Work on a task until it’s 100% complete. Avoid the temptation to leave it halfway through or do it later. Allow yourself to get ‘in the zone’ and your creativity and output will pour out of you.
2. Planning and Goal Setting
The two go hand in hand. If you don’t know where you’re going then you’re sure to get lost along the way, lose your momentum and miss valuable business opportunities. Instead, consider your goals then write them down somewhere you can refer to them often. Ensure they’re SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.)
Become hyper-productive by learning the art of the ‘to do’ list. Create a master list of the tasks you need to do and split them into monthly lists, weekly lists, and daily lists. This will help you focus on your priorities and get more focused. Make sure you schedule time for everything that you need to do, remembering to add how much time you estimate that task will take. This will help you stay on track.
There are many tools that can be used to implement and effective system to keep you organised and on track. We love Asana when it comes to planning and organising. Not only can projects be managed and assigned colours and due dates depending on their importance, it's a great tool that keeps your plans and goals in a clear, shared space for all colleagues to see.
Technology is an amazing tool that can help us to achieve great things. Consider using great productivity apps like time trackers, responsive ‘to do’ lists and project management tools to help you stay ahead. But beware of letting it distract you!
You can then also plan your day at the end of the previous day so you can avoid early morning procrastination, be more focused meaning you can ‘eat that frog’ immediately.
3. Apply the Pareto technique
The Pareto principle says that you’ll get 80% of your results from 20% of your work efforts. Focus on the most important 20% and focus on them to achieve more in less time.
By taking this approach, you'll find your motivation in an instant by asking yourself what the consequences would be if you didn’t get this task done when you need to. And on the flip side, what will happen when you do get it done?
Large tasks can be overwhelming and can lead us to think that we’re less productive than we actually are. Break your tasks down into smaller chunks and you’ll feel better, stay motivated and get stuff done.
Taking a smaller chunk of the 'worst' part of your work you need to complete and knowing this will benefit most other aspects of your working day, should be a great motivator to help you focus your attention in the right place.
If those those smaller tasks which fit into the 80% won’t help you crush your goal and ‘eat your frog’ then it’s perfectly OK to leave it until later in the day.
4. Know your strengths
We all have talents, so make sure you’re using them!
Use the ‘ABCDE method’ to prioritise your tasks and help you focus better. Award an ‘A’ to those tasks which are most important, and rate them through to ‘E’ for those that you’d be better off delegating.
Sometimes we avoid tackling some jobs as we know we're just not that good at it. Brent Summers in his article 5 Simple To-Do List Hacks to Help You Get More Done talks of do, delegate, defer or delete. There are times when the job can only be done by you, but take a closer look to see if is something that you can delegate to someone who could do it better than you.
Consider, what were you hired to do? What are you supposed to deliver? Make sure you keep this in mind and shape your day and workload accordingly. If a task doesn’t align with your focus, hire a staff member to help.
5. Get your nose to the grindstone
When you’re at work, make sure you focus on getting your work done. Block distractions, avoid social media and concentrate on what you need to do. If you find this difficult, use an app that helps to block distractions.
Scientists have proven that when we think we’re multitasking, we’re simply switching our focus repeatedly. We’re not focusing so we can’t get tasks completed to the best of our abilities. Focus on just one thing, give it your full attention and you can achieve great things.
6. Eat your frog first
With to-do lists often being much like Marmite, they’re one of those things at some point in your career or home life that you’ll love or hate. Sometimes we look at our list and think, “Wow! I’m excited by this list and the things I’ve got to do.” “I can’t wait to get stuck in!” And then, there are times when we look at the list and want to bury it, thinking, “Ugh, I can’t handle these jobs today...”
Here's the challenge, look at the job you want to do the least, take the plunge and get it over and done with. You'll feel a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you've dedicated the time and effort to the worst task on your list, meaning you can give yourself mega brownie points, even treating yourself to your preferred tipple in the evening!
Here's to becoming more productive at work (and home) by following the tips we’ve shared with you. Don't forget to prioritise your day, plan, set goals, avoid distractions and above all, don't quit!
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