I’ll admit it. I’m a planner.
I used to be proud of it and even tried my hand at wedding planning. But I gradually came to realize that spending an entire working day just planning a project is not a good use of my time.
One of the great things about freelancing is the ability to raise your hourly income by being more productive. Planning doesn’t directly equal income. Productivity does.
As I’ve become more focused on productivity, I’ve begun to recognize a lot of planning for what it is: a convenient way to procrastinate. Sure, you feel like you’re working, but you’re probably just delaying the actual work.
To make sure I’m getting the most important thing on my schedule done every morning, I … eat a frog.
If you haven’t heard of this technique, let me assure you, I don’t eat an actual frog.
Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, made this concept popular.
Basically, you do the worst thing on your list first thing. Then the rest of the day is easy.
Here’s how to determine what your own frog is and make sure you eat it:
Before you end work for the day today, figure out your most important tasks for tomorrow. These should be things that will move you closer to your writing goals or directly impact your income. My list includes writing a project proposal, calling a client, and updating my website.
Now, choose the worst of the most important things – the one you’re dreading the most – and circle it. Then put a star next to your favorite item.
I’m scared to death of making phone calls – even “warm” calls – so that’s definitely my frog. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning.
This sets my tone for the day. I can do anything! And I have more energy and passion.
Next, I’ll write and send that project proposal. But in comparison to my frog, the proposal is a piece of cake.
Then, once all my tasks are done for the day, I’ll reward myself with my favorite task: updating my website.
Now, this only works if you eat the frog first thing in the morning. Resist the temptation to do small things first. Don’t check email. Don’t return phone calls. Don’t write a nonessential blog post. And don’t plan how you’re going to eat that frog.
Just eat it.
If you allow yourself to procrastinate by doing smaller, less essential tasks, your motivation and valuable time will be gone. Then you’ll have to tackle that big, scary task with less enthusiasm and energy. If you’re like me, that means you’ll put it off until tomorrow and feel guilty.
If you have a 9-to-5 job, you might be wondering how you can eat the frog first thing in the morning and still get to work …
You have a few choices. You could get up earlier and eat your frog before work, or you could schedule time each evening to eat your frog.
I personally recommend getting up earlier because after you come home from your J.O.B., your creative energy is likely gone. And other obligations will be screaming for your attention.
If you commute to work in traffic, try leaving your house an hour earlier. Eat your frog at the office. This way, you miss the morning traffic and save yourself some time and frustration.