It has been said for many years 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 is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long." -Brian Tracy,
If there's one principle to live by at work and in life, I truly think this is it. Especially now that my blissful holiday vacation has ended, and I've returned to stockpiles of emails and seemingly endless tasks at work. Brian Tracy wrote an incredibly straightforward book on the concepts of prioritization and avoiding procrastination for important tasks. He says
Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, and "the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it now. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment."
It's so easy to get consumed by emails (or to procrastinate by responding to every single email the minute it enters your inbox) instead of working on high-priority projects or tasks. We whittle the day away doing what should be follow-up work. At the end of the year when you look back on your accomplishments or update your resume, how many of you will say "answered every email"?
Choose your "frog" the night before. Commit to starting that frog first thing in the morning, before checking a single email. At first this is going to be really hard. You've got to stick with it. I found that after getting my highest priority task over with, I felt productive and happy for the rest of the day. As Tracy says,
Think about it – if you postpone your most important task, it hangs over your head all day, weighing you down with dread and guilt. If you knock it off first thing in the morning, the relief buoys you up all day long, literally energizing and boosting your productivity as you tackle the rest of the items on your to-do list.
And don't forget: "If you have two frogs, eat the ugliest one first." Click here to order Eat that Frog!