This is Week 14 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested whether Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy could improve my productivity. I determined the most impactful task I could complete and did that first and continued to identify and “eat” the next biggest frogs throughout the day.
How Eat That Frog Saved My Sanity This Week
- Relieved guilt. When I’m researching something that isn’t urgent or I’m experimenting with blog plug-ins, I feel really guilty. I know I should be doing something else. By doing the most important things first, I felt no guilt, which was wonderful for a change!
- Helped me feel in control. Before this week, my tendency was to do a bunch of little tasks first–presumably because I would feel like I was on top of my to-do’s. But doing the easiest tasks first actually left me with my big, undesirable tasks that often didn’t get done and contributed to overwhelm. Finishing the big frogs first helped me feel that I was doing well, even if I were to be interrupted later in the day.
- Got me thinking. I really thought about what would make the biggest impact on my day (or life). On one day, I realized that I was avoiding tasks I didn’t like (returning things) that would actually pay me to do them. Thinking of them that way got me to quit procrastinating and get them out of the way.
- Resolved my desire for electronic and paper lists. This benefit isn’t really related to Eat That Frog, but Brian Tracy’s suggestion to “write everything down” had me looking for a means of doing that. I continued using IQTell to create my digital lists and then printed off the list for each day. I put a dot in front of the top 20% of tasks and then circled each dot as I identified it as the next frog to eat. I found it very rewarding to cross completed tasks off, giving me the benefits I’ve found with both list forms.
- Gave me the satisfaction of working to completion. While I love working little-and-often, there is something deeply satisfying about marking a task complete and knowing you don’t have to see it again. There was a good discussion on Mark Forster’s forum about the balance between little-and-often and working to completion that may be of interest to you.
How Eat That Frog Made Me Crazy This Week
- Didn’t want to do the tasks. I really had to make myself eat the frogs and had to use a goodly amount of willpower to do them at first. However, I was delighted when I did and found it got easier each day.
- Burned out without breaks. At first, I completely forgot about my plan to use 50/10 Pomodoros while eating frogs. I started working my way through the frogs and was ready to scream because I wanted to do the more appealing tasks. Then I remembered I could do those appealing tasks on my breaks and all was well.
- I didn’t always get to determine the frog. I had my frog identified for the day and I was ready to eat it when my husband decided we would clean out the basement instead. I find I’m unable to stop in the middle of projects like this, so the frog had to wait until the next day. Honestly, every productivity hack I try will always be at the mercy of my family and circumstances. But I bet I’m not that unusual that way.
- Didn’t always want to name the frog. Some days I know what I have to do and I do it. I don’t want to waste time reviewing a list and dotting and circling the frogs. And I think that’s O.K.
- Can’t eat the frog first thing. There is a sense in which I eat the frog first nearly every day. By that I mean, I have time for prayer, teaching, and exercise in the mornings. These activities make the most impact on my life. Because I have a routine that works, I can’t supplant it by eating other frogs in the first part of the day–unless they’re truly urgent. I can only eat the other frogs during the first part of my task time and that’s later in the day when a lot of my willpower has been used up.
Did Eat That Frog Help Me Get More Done?
Without question. More importantly though, I got more of the right things done. There is something about identifying tasks that will have the most impact that works for me. Throughout the week, variables like money, commitments to other people, and size of the project contributed to a to-do being identified as a frog. I found it much easier to leave the frivolous items until the end of the list, eliminate them, or do them on breaks than I have with any other approach.
I would like to continue working in this way because it’s so powerful.
I do the most important work early in the day — exercise, writing, devotions, chores, and teaching. After that, it becomes more of a challenge. But Skedpal helps me with Eat That Frog by choosing the frog for me. Usually I eat what Skedpal tells me to eat. 🙂
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 15
This week I’ll be taking a vacation.
The concept. Research shows that vacations really do increase your productivity. We tend to come back from time off more refreshed and ready to work. I almost always return excited about a new goal or project.
But the benefits of vacation aren’t limited to the work you do AFTER. Getting ready for vacation can also jump-start your productivity. You race to finish projects before you leave and avoid distractions to your goal of getting on your way.
The great thing is you don’t have to be going on an out-of-town trip to experience the benefits. You can work toward getting work done early so you can take time off, enjoy a special event, or have some relaxation time at home. For example, you can plan a weekend vacation at home where you have to do nothing but relax and enjoy. To do that, you’ll have to get all housework and other work done during the week and avoid everything that distracts you.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read this article about vacation-inspired productivity and plan a real or imagined vacation. Work hard so you can play hard! I’m going to give you two weeks to do it with my report appearing week after next.
Click here to see if taking a vacation helped my productivity.
If you’ve tried Eat That Frog to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far: