The other day I tackled a task I had been putting off for, oh, just about forever. I cleared out the garage, prompted by the inorganic rubbish collection notice in the letterbox. Dragged myself in there and rampaged through it, donated a heap of stuff to charity and junked a load of . . . junk. I had been meaning to do this for months but every time I went into the overflowing untidy garage it was such an energy sucker. It was like the walls were whispering to me “you are so lazy Louise. Tidy the garage. Lazy. It’s going to take hours and be tedious. You should tidy me”. Gah! Horrible. Energy sucking. I had started to avoid the garage like the plague.
Well it feels completely different now! Neat. Tidy. Everything in its place. I like going in there for no reason at all, just to look at it! It’s energising. It feels like relief.
We all have tasks like that. Stuff we are putting off and putting off. Procrastinating. Always finding something else to do instead. And meanwhile this task that sits undone is a major energy sucker, leeching our energy in the background every time we avoid it.
There is a well-known productivity author called Brian Tracy, who has a very cool strategy for overcoming procrastination. He calls it eating a frog. The idea is that if you have to eat a frog you are better not staring at that frog all day. Eyeballing said frog will only make it taste even more unpleasant, plus it will ruin your day. If you have a frog to eat, you are better just manning up and getting it done first. That way you feel good about the fact that the hardest part of your day is done and this releases a surge of energy and motivation to carry you through the rest of your day.
It’s a good strategy. Because generally what we do is we start our day with the stuff we really like. Checking messages. Scanning through Facebook. Reading the paper. We know we are avoiding the inevitable frogs but . . . we will do them later, right? However, by the time we get to them our energy and motivation to get them done is lower, and we put it off, again, for another day. And our day has been less fun as we have been subtly avoiding dealing with the frog by being very busy with other stuff. But we know it’s there. The frog we don’t want to swallow. Lurking in the background.
A good way to break things down is to look at four categories of things to do.
- Stuff that’s important and that I want to do
- Stuff that’s not important but I want to do it
- Stuff that’s important and I really don’t want to do it
- Stuff that’s not important and I really don’t want to do it
So, your frogs are your number 3 items. Stuff that’s important but you don’t want to do it. If exercise is a chore for you, then get to the gym before work rather than doing the “will I, won’t I” dance at the end of the day. If it’s scary client phone calls, get them handled first thing. The financial review you don’t want to do but you know you need to. Man up. Make it happen. Don’t spend the day dreading it. Eat the frog. Hit it up first thing. That’s the stuff to tackle when your reserves are high. Getting that accomplished will be an energy springboard to move you through your day on the tide of your accomplishment. Eat that frog. Don’t spend the day staring at it.
Then you have the rest of the day to pick up the stuff that’s important and that you do actually want to do (number 1) like maybe cooking dinner, or creating a presentation. Plus you get to add in some guilt-free fun stuff like noodling on Facebook, or shopping, or calling your bestie or whatever, stuff that’s not that important but that you enjoy (number 2). As for the stuff that’s not that important and that you don’t really want to do (number 4) — well, that is a frog you don’t want to eat! And when you look at it, probably isn’t actually your frog at all. Delegate that frog. Pay someone else to eat that frog for you. Or just cross that frog off your list. It doesn’t belong to you.
Stop yoyo dieting and do something much more productive instead. Join Louise at her seminar series to unleash the power of your mind and ditch the diet drama forever. Find out more at louisethompson.com.