Hey, Procrastinators: Can Your Business' Frog Become A Prince?
“Eat a live frog every morning,” Mark Twain once said, famously, “and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day!” Brian Tracy, in his popular time management volume Eat That Frog, used that maxim as inspiration – encouraging his readers to tackle their most challenging task of each day first thing in the morning – helping ensure they accomplish their top priorities and avoid procrastination.
As a recovering procrastinator, and a proud, card-carrying member of “Procrastinators Anonymous”, I have benefitted quite a bit from Brian’s tutelage! And believe me, I can procrastinate with the best of them. Ask my parents, my wife, my kids. . . I was going to ask them for you, but I’ll probably get to it later. If you can relate to this, it isn’t your “fault” necessarily – each of us is wired with an innate behavior style that drives our natural tendencies. Some of us are simply predisposed to procrastinate more than others. However, it IS your responsibility to address this tendency, especially if it is creating problems or slowing down your success. No one else can do it for you.
And that’s why I have put a number of systems and tools in place to serve as my own support system. Left to my own devices, I would probably miss many, many opportunities and be far less productive than I ought to be, due to my natural tendency to procrastinate. By simply putting a couple of the 21 key concepts from Eat That Frog into use, though, I am able to stay out of the procrastination “cellar” and force myself to be more proactive. Following are a couple of simple tips that may be useful to many of you reading this.
Become a ruthless practitioner of the 80/20 rule. Chapter 3 of ETF is all about the “Pareto Principle”, more commonly known as the 80 / 20 rule. Simply put, Pareto demonstrated that roughly 20% of our activity accounts for about 80% of our success. (This rule can be applied to nearly any economic concept or system.) Brian Tracy simplifies this even further – Your life, and particularly your “work life”, can be boiled down to “A” tasks and “B” tasks. “A” tasks are those things you do that you know are actively getting you closer to achieving your goals. “B” tasks are everything else – the minutia that we fill our days with that get in the way of our “A” tasks. I could elaborate, but you know what these are already – we all do. Simply, Brian says to do more “A” tasks and fewer “B” tasks. No need to overcomplicate it. Just make the resolve and do it. And be ruthless and relentless!
Practice Creative Procrastination. In Chapter 16, Brian paradoxically encourages us to procrastinate – as long as we are procrastinating on the right things. Yes, we can choose to procrastinate to become more effective. The trick is just the flip side of the 80 / 20 rule. The opposite of “priorities” are “posteriorities” – those things that we should intentionally move to the bottom of our list. The only way we truly gain control of our lives is by reducing or discontinuing lower value activities. But sometimes lower value activities are really, really tempting. (My guilty pleasure is checking Facebook frequently throughout the day. What’s yours?) So, if we don’t quite have the resolve to eliminate these lower value activities altogether, at least we can choose to delay them. Each of us can probably identify at least 1 or 2 posteriorities that we know tend to cost us a lot of productivity, and either set aside time for them at the very end of the day, or push them entirely to after business hours. If we have eaten all of the important frogs first, we can come back for the tadpoles later.
So, did these couple of quick tips from Eat That Frog whet your appetite, and inspire you to take control of your day? OK, then, I’m going to make you an offer you simply cannot refuse. I’m willing to give you a copy of the e-book version of Eat That Frog at no cost. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog comments below, and then send me a quick private message to firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred e-mail address, and I’ll send it to you gratis, no strings attached. (Please don’t leave your e-mail address in the public comments below, though!) Don’t hesitate, don’t deliberate, and don’t procrastinate, or you may forget – gobble that frog down right now.