Friday, November 2, 2012

Adopt "Eat That Frog" Mentality For Energy

Eat That Frog!
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Train Tracy is an internationally known motivational speaker and best-selling author who is also a pretty high-energy dude. He has a concept that’s been a huge help to me in organizing my days for maximum energy.

It’s called “Eat That Frog”, which is actually the title of one of his best-selling books, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done is Less Time.

I know it doesn’t sound terribly appetizing as a culinary choice, but read on.

FINISH THE “IN COMPLETES”

For most people I know, procrastination is a huge energy drainer. Many of us spend a ton of energy putting off the things we don’t want to do –tasks we find unpleasant, uncomfortable, too challenging, not challenging enough, beneath us, over our heads, fill in the blank. The result is that we have little energy to do the things we actually enjoy.

Tracy’s concept is elegantly simple: Do the biggest, ugliest, most distasteful task first. Get it out of the way. (Hence, eat the frog. What metaphor could be more disgusting?) The idea is that once you’ve done the thing that you’re spending the most energy avoiding, what’s left is psychic space (and relief) and the ability to really focus your energy.

I’ve found that when I do this, the world literally opens up. Not only do I feel freer and more liberated, but I also feel like I could take on the world. (Of course, I don’t always do it, but when I do, look out!)

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, talking about how “in-completes”, whether they are tasks or communications, can take up psychicspace, preventing you from being your energetic best. Those in-completes, especially when they’re uncomfortable or difficult, tend to be high on the procrastination list. (Why wouldn’t they be?) Now, you basically have two choices about how to liberate all that energy bound up in these events. Yu can spend you time analyzing why it is that you procrastinate – interesting but not very action-oriented – or you can focus on exactly what needs to get done, and then do it.

Tracy suggests starting each day tackling the item, task, project, or conversation that is the most onerous (but necessary). In other words, eat the symbolic frog. Get it over with first thing in the morning, and by comparison, the rest of the day is a breeze. It’s as simple – and difficult – as that.

An aside: People often ask me whether it’s better to exercise in the morning or at night. The answer is that from a physiological point of view it doesn’t matter, but from a psychological point of view it may. I find that people who exercise first thing in the morning set the tone for the day by “getting it out of the way”, creating space and energy and setting themselves up with a positive feeling of accomplishment that tends to linger and spread throughout the rest of the day’s events. It’s actually one of many ways you can eat the frog.

CHOOSE ACTION
Remember, a basic principle of this book is that our thoughts influence our emotions and our emotions influence our actions. Procrastination involves a process that includes magnifying the negative aspect of the task you are avoiding, and giving those thoughts the power to throw emotional roadblocks in the road to success. But remember, procrastination is, after all, a choice.

Guess who does the choosing? You.

Once you hear that familiar voice chanting all the reasons to avoid the task at hand, just jump in and push the override button. How? With action. Decide what you need to accomplish, and what you want to accomplish. *Some tasks will have pressing deadlines, others will be open-ended. If you have a tendency to put off those one-step tasks (such as making that unpleasant phone call or writing a memo), then prioritize your day so you start with the task you least want to do and work your way to the more pleasant assignments.

*Make organizational experts recommended making a list and giving each task a priority rating (1, 2, or 3), with number is being those that have to get done today. You can usually find your frogs among the number is, even though they often wind up being put off until tomorrow, a surefire energy drainer if there ever was one.

If it’s the long-range projects that tend to overwhelm you, then break them down into concrete, manageable, and achievable steps, and schedule those steps into your calendar. Look, if you decided to run a marathon, and you waited until a week before the race to train, obviously you’d set yourself up for failure. But if you planned well, and started your training early enough, you would gradually build your endurance to a point where running 26.4 miles, and crossing the finish line, is actually achievable.

The same goes for those long-range fear-provoking tasks, such as preparing a presentation for next month’s conference. Divide it into small steps, and start your day by accomplishing the tasks you are most likely to delay. You’ll conquer your fear and avoid the energy-draining guilt that is a byproduct of avoidance.

Approaching your day with an “eat the frog mentality” will not only increase your productivity but also increases your energy.

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