By now you’ve figured out this isn’t a foodie blog, right? So, you can be pretty sure I’m speaking metaphorically when I refer to frogs. The frogs I’m talking about are the ones Brian Tracy talks about in his book “Eat That Frog“. Basically, the idea is that we shouldn’t put off the work that needs done (and we might not want to do). It can help us build a habit of not procrastinating and can make us start our day with a real sense of accomplishment which only strengthens the habit. I totally agree that procrastination is a time waster and productivity killer that needs to be addressed. Most people would benefit a great deal by doing no more than looking at that unpleasant task and deciding to just do it. However, I also believe there are times when grabbing that frog by the legs and trying to stuff it down our throats actually does more harm than good. For this reason, I think we should really look at that task (frog) and ask a few questions before we just dive right in.
- Am I now or have I been avoiding this task merely because I find it unpleasant or is it really something I shouldn’t be doing? Be honest here. I know it’s easy to come up with excuses not to do something that maybe doesn’t make you jump up and down and dance. However, if it’s something you suck at and somebody else could get it done it less than half the time you have to look at the REAL cost of not paying somebody to do it in terms of productivity and attitude.
- Will I feel a real sense of accomplishment when it’s done or will I just be checking something off a list? Spend some time thinking about the task being done. How do you feel? If it’s not energized, you may need to look at the task again.
- Am I avoiding it because I have no clear concept of what the task is or involves? This is another one that sets you up for a fall. If you’re not clear what the task really involves, how can you even begin to accomplish it?
- Am I avoiding it because I just convinced myself it’s “too hard” or will take too long? If you’ve asked the other questions and still can’t find a tangible reason for thinking it’s “too hard” then you’re just resisting to resist! Do the task right now!
Signs You’re Eating Too Much Frog
Ok, let’s say you’ve asked the tough questions and you’ve decided to move forward with your frog eating. The first step or two breeze right by. Suddenly, this wave of anxiety washes over you and you feel lost. What happened? It was all going so well and now you’re just at a loss for the next step. Here are some signs you may have tried to eat too much frog. I’ll give you some solutions in a minute but tell me if any of these sound familiar.
- You can’t, no matter how hard you try, see yourself finishing this task.
- You’re getting frustrated and mad.
- You find yourself knee deep in email, social media or a phone conversation without a clue as to when you stopped doing your task.
- You wake up with keyboard key marks on your face-LOL! Ok, this one was just a curve I threw in to see if you were really reading this-HA!
- Two hours have passed and you’re really no further along than you were after the first couple of steps.
What Should You Do?
We all know how easy it is to procrastinate. Some people actually build procrastination into their days without even realizing it. This usually has to do with them forcing themselves to do everything on their little task lists. Every time they come up against a tough task they back away and call it “strategizing” or “resetting” or something catchy. What they’re really doing is just putting that task off.
I’m a firm believer that nothing can kill your day more than building in stumbling blocks. It kind of reminds me of the Steve Martin comic routine about how to become a millionaire and never pay taxes. Sorry if I’m dating myself by talking about his comic routines (which go back to the 70s or early 80s) but it’s very relevant here. His advice goes something like “First, get a million dollars. Then….”. The same is true when you think about how to build your day. If you’re thinking to yourself the best way to have a productive day is to get everything on your list done, you’re setting yourself up for failure at the onset. It would be better if we saw our days as multiple opportunities to begin again with each new task we take on. That way, you stay mindful of your goals and can use that to gauge your overall progress that day.
Here is my BIG advice for how to deal with frog over-consumption:
If you possess any of the above signs, STOP doing that task immediately! Get up, walk away and take a short break. When you return ask yourself one question: WHY? Why am I not working on this task? Be honest with yourself when you answer. If it’s some poorly formed idea of it being “too hard” or anything truly superficial, I would go back to the task and see if you can pick it up where you left off. If you can’t or if you have some serious issues with the task, I want you to stop doing it right now! That’s right. Don’t do one more thing towards its completion. This one action alone will save you tons of time and help salvage your mindset for the day.
However, before you label me as a procrastination enabler, let me finish. It’s not just about stopping. Let me explain.
For each task you find yourself abandoning you absolutely MUST schedule some time in the near future that you’ll look at it again and decide if it’s something you really want to move forward with, abandon completely or outsource/delegate it to somebody who will be more than willing to do it in a fraction of the time. I mean literally put it on your google calendar and give yourself at least 30 minutes to take a hard look at it. If you finish in five minutes your reward is you get to do something fun for the rest of the half hour. DO NOT just jump into something else. Remember it’s all YOUR time and YOU control it! If you don’t take your time seriously, who will?
Is Over-Analyzing Not Just Another Form of Procrastination?
Before you tell me the amount of time spent on this process is likely to end up being more frog to eat, let me just say the following. All I’m trying to do here is give you a quick system to evaluate the frogs you’ve been eating (or trying to eat) and give you a simple habit to either move forward, pivot or scrap it. The little time it will take you to look at any task you’re struggling with will more than be made up by the time you’re not wasting doing the wrong tasks. Anything new takes a little time to learn but I don’t think I’ve over-complicated anything here. Let me know what you think, ok?
Let Me Hear From YOU!
Leave me a comment below and tell me if you’ve recently decided to scrap or move forward with something you’ve been putting off and tell me why you’ve made that decision. Then, tell me the amount of time you believe you’ve saved as a result of making this decision. If you’ve found something helpful here, please share it on Facebook, twitter Google + or LinkedIn using the buttons below.