Eat the Frog: 7 Ways to Combat Procrastination
I think we can all agree that no matter how hard we try, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we have on our proverbial ‘ to-do lists’.
Another commonality; I think I can say without question that we have all been the culprit of procrastination. It plagues everyone; whether severely or mildly, but at some point we all suffer from the avoidance of that ‘all-important’ task that we would rather save until ‘later’ or will do it ‘tomorrow’.
The funny thing here is, when you think about the biggest, ugliest task you have on your ‘to-do list’ right now, it’s usually the most important one; the one that will yield the biggest result, yet we still seem to put the small, menial tasks before it. WHY?
Last week I was faced with a very similar conundrum; I have so many things on my ‘list’; I am outrageously busy yet I don’t seem to be getting anything measurable accomplished.
Noticing this, I started to look closer at my actual activity and realised a lot of it wasn’t actually that important and I could be placing other activities much higher on my list; those things that would actually yield measurable and meaningful results.
With this heightened awareness and sensitivity to ‘activity, vs importance of activity’ I realised I wasn’t the only one riding this incessant merry-go round.
I had a particularly interesting conversation with one of my candidates who was speaking about how busy they were and didn’t have time to update his resume and properly prepare for his interviews the following week. The funny thing was, the previous words out of his mouth were focused primarily around how finding a new career was his number one priority and how a refreshing environment and new challenges would completely change his outlook on life and directly affect his overall happiness and wellbeing….hummm.
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.
In this case, your big ugly ‘frog’ is your biggest and most important task; the one you are likely to procrastinate on. Coincidently this ‘frog’ it is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and produce meaningful results.
Having done some research on this I have amalgamated the below:
Top 7 ways to ‘Eat the Frog’ and combat Procrastination:
1. Prioritise ; Plan each day in advance
An average person who develops the habit of setting clear priorities to get important tasks done; whether hourly, daily or weekly will run circles around a genius who talks a lot and makes plans but gets nothing done. The key to success in this respect is to establish a habit of making these ‘top-priority lists’ prior to the day they are to be actioned. Each task should be listed from A – E, F,G etc. based on importance and the measurable result each task will yield.
2. Consider the Consequences; Look Long-Term
The mark of a superior thinker is his or her ability to predict the consequences of doing or NOT doing something. A tool to combat procrastination is to think of your big ugly frog and decide what will happen if you eat it, and what will happen if you don’t. Consider the effects at 24 hours, one week, one month and one year.
3. List Key Outcomes and the tasks which need to be Completed to achieve these
Sometimes it can be helpful to break down your ideal outcomes into the individual tasks which need to be executed to achieve said outcome; work backwards. Try to break these outcomes into the smallest measurable task. For example, if you are looking for a new job the end result is a job offer. Break that down into how many interviews you need to attend, how many discussions with recruiters and how many CV’s you have to send and assign a time-oriented deadline to these tasks. You could even break that down further into revamping your CV and creating a customised cover letter for each role.
4. Minimise Technology Time-Sinks
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Need I say more? Though these tools have an important place, they often suck up more of our precious ‘frog eating’ time then we realise. An interesting exercise (if you can handle the cold, hard truth) is to track your time you spend on any of these sites each day; mark each increment down and add it up at the end of the day…you might be surprised at the result. Just think of all the frogs you could have eaten…!
5. Identify Key Constraints
In setting yourself priorities, goals or any other achievable outcome it is always important to be realistic in order to make the outcome realistically achievable. Before arranging your to-do list, make sure to take note of scheduled tasks which may get in the way of achieving you’re A-Z list. Things like meetings, family commitments, financial restraints, etc. Once identified, plan for them; better to plan to act than react at the last minute.
6. Pressurise, Take Charge, Motivate and Reward
Ever feel like you are waiting for that ‘Eureka’ moment or the strike of lightening to jumpstart you into action? I have some sad news for you. No one but you will be able to provide the long-lasting motivation you are looking for. To reach your full potential you must form the habit of pressurising yourself rather than waiting for someone to do this for you. Consistently raise the bar for yourself, create imaginary deadlines, visualise your long term goals and break them down. Set targets for yourself and once reached reward yourself with a predetermined incentive. Successful people continually put the pressure on themselves to perform at high levels. Unsuccessful people have to be instructed and driven by others to succeed. Which one are you?
7. Just DO IT; Eat the Frog
One of the most helpful things I find; after having executed all the above is to just do it; just rip off the Band-Aid quickly and EAT THE FROG. I find if I don’t think about it too much; launch into the activity and just start, it helps to get the momentum going and before I know it, the frog is eaten and I can move on to the next task.
Hope these have been as helpful for you as they have for me; Happy Frog Eating!