Hi everyone, I hope you have had a great week. In last weeks post I wrote about the benefits of the One Minute To Do List as a great way to empty the mind and capture a view of tasks that are critical to be done today when you are under pressure. You can also capture anything on your mind for the week ahead as well as further over the horizon tasks. I attached a free printable download that I hope you found useful. You may have noticed that there was a fourth section called Someday / Maybe – this is a space where I capture longer term tasks or goals so that I have sight of them and I find it works for me – I have merged and adapted multiple methods that now work for me to try and stay organised.
I added the Someday / Maybe section after reading David Allen’s method of organisation described in his book Getting Things Done but I’ll be sharing more on that in the future. This additional section, Someday / Maybe, can be used to capture anything on your longer term To Do or Goals lists – for example on mine I have had “Buy a Log Burner” noted for some time and this week I intend to move that to the Opportunities for the Week list ;-).
So having a To Do list is all well and good but how often have you written and re-written these lists only to find yourself procrastinating and putting off doing the key things that you know you need to do? It is very easy to start a new day and think I’ll just clear all my 2 minute jobs and clear my emails and then I’ll get a cup of tea and I’ll knuckle down and get on with my big must do tasks on my list. All too often though these shorter easier tasks are just not moving us forward towards our goals and even more worryingly they are eating into our finite reserves of will power and brain power. Add in a few interruptions – like people stopping by for a chat, the odd phone call and urgent email – and before you know it it’s lunch time and you’ve missed out on using your most productive part of the day and your finite brain power and will power reserves are already draining.
Procrastination just leads to more stress and leaving things till the deadline makes us more likely to result in making more mistakes but we all do it. In Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog he teaches 21 ways to help you prioritise your most important tasks and organise your time so that you can be ready to work on your biggest, hardest and ugliest tasks first – your “frogs” – while your will power is at it’s peak.
Brian’s analogy is that if you have a list of horrible frogs to eat you pick the biggest and ugliest one first. I highly recommend his book, Brian gives some great tips including having an A to E method of labelling tasks, the A’s have to be done today and if there are multiple frogs they should be numbered with A1 being the absolute priority task followed by A2 then A3 and so on. He suggests you only move onto A2 when you have completed everything you need to do that day on A1. You move onto your B’s when all the A’s are done. B’s include checking emails and other distractions. Just briefly these are his suggested A to E categories:
A’s – Your Frogs! If you have more than 1 the hardest and ugliest is at the top of the list
B’s – Only do these when all the A’s are finished – e.g. checking emails and other distractions
C’s – Personal Tasks
D’s – Tasks to Delegate
E’s – Adding No Value – consider stopping doing them!
Brian says that if you implement this method and stick to it you will watch your productivity levels rocket and your stress levels crash!
“EAT THAT FROG FIRST THING AND BE LIBERATED”
As a way of getting organised, to work on your biggest and ugliest “Frog”, you should clear everything else from your workspace and have everything ready that you need to get started. You should carve out chunks of time for your high value tasks and be disciplined. If you still find yourself avoiding getting started Brian suggests repeating over and over in your mind “Just do it, just for today, just do it” and if you practice this every day after 21 days you will have formed a new habit that can make you up to 5 times more productive.
If some tasks are just too overwhelming he suggests slicing and dicing them into more manageable chunks so that psychologically it is much easier to manage and this can actually drive a compulsion to keep going when you start to make progress on these smaller tasks. It has been proven that endorphins in the brain are released when you finish a task which creates a surge of energy and power that can actually increase your inner drive and motivation to continue. This can directly contribute to your overall levels of happiness and satisfaction – who doesn’t want a bit of that!
If you feel a dip in energy and focus Brian suggests repeating “Do it now” over and over and if you are distracted saying to yourself “Back to work, back to work” with a sense of urgency. There are plenty of other tips but I hope this gives you a flavour.
So this week see if you can try and focus on something that you have been putting off and see if you can “Eat That Frog”. I would love to hear how you get on and any successes that you have.
Have a great week everyone, watch out frogs! x