Do you feel as though you have a to-do list that never ends – it just gets longer? And those really big tasks just seem too intimidating to even begin, so you spend time crossing the little, less important ones off, but you know deep down that you weren’t really productive because all you did was put the big one off for one more day?
Between a 3/4 time job, some freelancing, having a health coaching practice, and managing a household that includes two active kids, my list always seems packed full of tasks – large and small, important and less important, urgent, and less so. And when I need to add self-care such as workouts and sleep into the mix, I sometimes think it’d be easier to throw up my hands and surrender.
But surrender is not an option, and with one child rising college, neither is quitting a job or closing the practice!
I’ve learned to compromise: for example designating from 4:00 – 6:00am as “me time” ensures that the workout will get done (and I just might have time to grab 10 minutes of reading over a cup of coffee and breakfast), but it also means that I am “the morning parent,” in charge of making breakfasts and packing lunches – my husband, “the evening parent,” deals with dinner dishes and bedtimes so that I can go to bed before the kids do.
Ideal? No – far from it! It’s really pitch black at 4:00am, no matter the season. And I’d really rather stay in bed another hour, but I know that if I don’t get that workout in, it’s not going to happen later in the day – it is guaranteed to be hijacked. And after several years of this practice, it’s really just another habit.
Doing precisely what I shy away from – tackling the big, important tasks first thing in the day – not only gets them out of the way but ensures that they will be done AND sets the stage for having a positive mindset about the rest of the list.
I think we all know this intuitively, but it’s sometimes helpful to acknowledge what we intuit in writing or out loud.
Brian Tracy has written about this concept in Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, where he calls the tasks we are most likely to be intimidated by (and therefore put off doing), “frogs.” His recommendation takes the idea one step further: every time you have set aside for working on your list of tasks, start the work session – not just the day – by “eating a frog.”
I recently realized that dusting is my frog. I really don’t mind cleaning my own house, and I love how it feels when the work is done and everything sparkles. But dusting – ugh. Dusting is my frog, more so than cleaning toilets and mopping the floor. So now when we put “housecleaning” on the calendar, not only does that get done first thing on Saturday morning – the dusting is the first frog I eat.
If you tend to procrastinate about doing the big tasks because they seem intimidating, I really recommend you try getting them (or at least one) out of the way first thing in the morning.
And don’t forget: “If you have two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
Leave a comment – what’s your frog?