The never ending to do list
Your to do list is full. There are a few things you can do with your eyes shut. Autopilot. There’s one thing you’re looking forward to. Your zone of genius.
There’s one task you’re dreading. It’s not going to be fun at all.
What are you going to do first?
If you constantly start with the less daunting tasks, you’ll dig yourself into a hole every time.
It doesn’t matter how organised you appear if you struggle to prioritise tasks in a way that gets everything done and keeps you sane.
The things that come naturally to you can’t always take precedence. If they do, you’ll be left with an overwhelming pile of tasks that you dread.
Eat that frog. Get it done
When you put the unpleasant or difficult tasks at the bottom of your to-do list, there will always be something to entice you away from them.
I fell into this trap when I started my coaching business. I started to grow my client base and realised I was losing control. Another coach recommended I read a book called “Eat That Frog”.
I couldn’t imagine what eating a frog could possibly have to do with getting things done.
The author, Brian Tracy, quotes Mark Twain:
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.
Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you let it sit on your to-do list.
Organise your Frogs
My biggest take away from this book was about how I needed to plan my use of time more consciously.
I could quite clearly see everything I needed to do in a day. I had a great list. But I was struggling to actually get everything done.
Especially the ‘frog’ tasks.
So, I grabbed 5 manila folders and labelled them Monday to Friday. I set them up, so they were the first thing I saw on my desk each morning.
When a new task was added to my to-do list, I would work out when that particular “Frog“ needed to be finished and place it in that day’s folder.
Then, every day, I would ensure my first and most important goal was to EMPTY the folder – do the work, make the call, research that thing.
Starting the day with your ‘frog’ tasks, means you end the day in your zone of genius.
Once my “Frogs“ were done I knew that for the remainder of that day I could go about my business happily knowing that I had achieved all the important goals for that day and could relax.
There was a surprising benefit over time. Not only was I getting more done, I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I previously had. I knew I was on track when there was an empty folder in front of me.
In the past, I’d put off frog tasks until I ended up with a full day of work that wasn’t where I shine. Those days can’t be anything but a struggle. They’re the days where you question everything about your business.
I realised that if I don’t Eat My Frogs, they turn into Cane Toads. And Cane Toads are poisonous!
Frogs take different forms
My client, Alicia, wanted to be more organised and more efficient. She felt like a to do list wasn’t going to cut it any more. There was just too much going on and tasks were falling through the cracks.
She set herself up with daily folders like I did and started prioritising frog tasks for first thing in the morning as much as possible. Having the folders close by, meant that Alicia could easily add notes to tasks when extra information came up.
At the end of each day, she would bring the following day’s folder next to her keyboard to be set up for the next morning.
Another client had a different method of eating his frogs. He was highly attuned to urgency. Which meant he was constantly chasing his tail and not getting to any long term, bigger picture tasks.
The way we organise frogs here was a weekly focus sheet. One or two bigger picture items per day. They may not be the most urgent things on the to do list, but they were highlighted as the most important tasks.
This simple change of focus had a large impact on overall business growth.
You need to be aware of what a frog task looks like to you, and you need to be prepared to eat your frogs on a daily basis.