Every now & then, you stumble across a great self-development book that makes a lasting impression.
A number of years ago, I stumbled across Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating & Get More Done in Less Time. As a procrastinator from way back (my bedroom was always at its cleanest during exams!), it’s a book that I try to revisit at least every 12 months to stay focused.
The premise of Tracy’s book, is that the key to happiness, satisfaction & success is to ‘eat your frog’ at the start of your working day. The ‘frog’ represents the most important task you need to complete that day, which will get you the most ‘bang for your buck’.
Many of you would be familiar with the Pareto principle, in which 20% of your efforts (generally frogs) will account for 80% of your results. It is therefore unsurprising that such tasks are also often the most challenging, & hence where procrastination often rears its ugly head.
Tracey states, ‘If you have to eat a live frog, it doesn’t pay to sit & look at it for very long’. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of staring at a number of ‘frogs’ longer than we should. I know I’ve maintained a lingering gaze with a few!!
Despite our best intentions for eating our ‘frogs’ each day, we all too often find ourselves side-tracked with small (& often non-priority) tasks. A quick email to a colleague, a lengthy telephone chat with our supervisor, or popping into this week’s birthday afternoon tea in the office…..
Before we know it, “3.30itis” has set in (or at least for the ‘morning people’ amongst us) & we decide our ‘frog’ is too big a task to start this afternoon. We’re not in the right headspace, we’re better looking at it with fresh eyes in the morning, another day won’t hurt…..you get the idea!
In hisbook, Tracy outlines 21 important rules to stop procrastinating & work more effectively. For this article, we have honed in on what we believe are the six most critical for a successful & sustainable wellness program.
1. Plan in advance.
Every minute you spend planning your wellness program can save 10 minutes in execution. As stressed by Tracy, focus on the 6 P’s, namely Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Having a structured wellness plan will ensure your time & energy is best spent.
2.Consider the consequences.
Having a long-term vision for your wellness program will ultimately improve your short-term decision-making. Your most important tasks & priorities are those that will provide the most valuable contribution to this vision. Stay focused.
3. Practice creative procrastination.
There are only so many hours in a day. Try using the ABCDE method to prioritise your tasks:
A = frogs
B =should do but mild consequences
C = nice to do
D = delegate
E = eliminate
In essence, it comes back to the old mantra, quality not quantity. Avoid trying to be all things to all people. You will only stretch both you & your wellness program to its limits. Concentrate on what’s important, namely, those tasks that support your overall goals & objectives.
4. Upgrade your key skills.
Ask yourself, what one skill if further developed, would help me to complete my key tasks more efficiently? If you have a phobia with preparing budgets, sit down with your Finance Manager over a coffee & ask them to guide you through the process. In my experience, it will ultimately save them time down the track, so they are more than happy to help!
5. Identify your key constraints.
What are the bottlenecks that prevent you from delivering your wellness program in a productive manner? Can this be alleviated through development of a new process or system in cooperation with key stakeholders, which will ultimately make everyone’s life easier? For example, could program bookings be managed through an online booking system as opposed to manually?
6. Single handle every task.
I am still mastering the art of this one! Set clear priorities, start your task, & don’t stop until 100% complete. According to Tracy, this is the real key to high performance & maximum personal productivity. However, in today’s world of technological over-connectivity, this can be easier said than done! Divert your phone, turn off your email & find an undistracted work area for focused work.
With practice each day, these principles will become second nature, & contribute to both your personal & wellness program’s success. So what are you waiting for?
Further reading: Tracy, Brian (2007) Eat That Frog, Berrett-Koehler Publishers: San Francisco.