The “Eat the Frog” Technique
This technique may have a strange name, but it’s very useful. It’s based on a saying by author Mark Twain. His idea was that if you eat a live frog every morning, nothing worse can happen to you all day. This is a funny idea, but it’s true!
Of course, it doesn’t mean eating a real frog! The frog here is the most unpleasant task on the to-do list that you’ve drawn up. It’s human nature to try to avoid unpleasant tasks. We’re all guilty of putting off something that we must do but don’t want to do. Whether it’s a phone call to a difficult client or a long and boring report, eating the frog is essential.
When you avoid an unpleasant task, it’s always on your mind. It stops you from getting on with other jobs that need to be done. It prevents you from focusing. You know all the time that the unpleasant task must be done. Why put it off? Do it first and get it out of the way!
Although it’s no fun to “eat the frog”, it will make the rest of your day easier. With the hardest task done, you’ll have the easier jobs to focus on for the remainder of your workday. Make eating the frog a lifelong habit. Tackle that major task before you do anything else. It isn’t easy to get into this habit, but it’ll boost your productivity immensely.
What do you do if you have more than one unpleasant task to tackle? The answer is to eat the ugliest one first! Begin with the task that’s least appealing. Find the discipline to start straight away and to persevere until you’ve completed the task. It isn’t going to be easy. However, when you’ve got into this habit, you’ll realize how it has improved your work life. Your productivity will increase hugely, and you’ll feel as if you’re achieving more.
Ditch the Procrastination
We’ve already mentioned how, as humans, we’re naturally inclined to procrastinate. While it’s normal, that doesn’t mean that it’s desirable. Procrastination can be the death knell to your productivity. Rather than putting off jobs until later, tackle them head-on. This is where the “eat the frog” technique comes into play. However, it doesn’t just apply to the least appealing jobs. It applies to absolutely everything in your life. Whether at work or at home, ditching the procrastination can make a huge difference.
You might not think that procrastination is a major issue. If you’re putting off reports that need to be done for Friday until Thursday afternoon, is that really a problem? After all, you’re getting them done on time. So, how can the delay be impacting your overall productivity? Let’s take a closer look.
Imagine it’s Monday and you’ve got a vital report to finish for Friday morning. You know the report is essential. However, it requires lots of research. You don’t enjoy researching and writing the report. You, therefore, decide to put it off. You spend the following three days working on other, less vital tasks. When Thursday comes around, you realize the report still needs to be done. You’re trapped.
You’ve got lots of other work to do. However, you can’t work on any of them. You need to get that research done and the report completed. You must work all night to meet your deadline. You submit the report as required on Friday. Everything’s fine. However, look at how it impacted on your productivity.
You didn’t effectively spend the time between Monday and Wednesday. You should have allocated time to each task according to its importance. More important tasks need longer times spent on them. Spending longer on a less important task isn’t increasing value.
The work is less important already. You’ve also given yourself several days of anxiety, whether you realize it or not. That report will have been on your mind the whole time. The longer the task is prolonged, the more anxious you become. You eliminate this worry by tackling the job head-on.
Not only that, although you finished the report on time, it probably wasn’t of the best quality. This means you’re not achieving your personal best. You won’t impress your managers and you won’t put yourself in line for a promotion.
Clearly, procrastination is a problem, so how do you eliminate it?
- Identify what you tend to procrastinate on. Is it always the same sort of task?
- Ask why you’re putting those tasks Probe your answers. Is it because of your ability? Your feelings? When you understand the reasons for putting the task off, you’ll be better able to overcome them.
- Come up with your action plan to resolve the problem. If you’re worried that you’re incapable of completing the task, take a course or read about the subject. If you’re lacking confidence in speaking to a client on the phone, work on your self-esteem.