What Does “Eating Frogs” Have To Do With Improving Your Productivity?

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This is a follow up to a previous article about beating procrastination, How To Beat Procrastination When You Don’t Know What To Do Next. This is a hot topic if you are running your own entrepreneurial business and largely responsible for getting things done. Combine this with the current online world with so many distractions being just a mouse click away.

Basically, if you do not get what needs to be done your business may suffer. So this article will share some secrets to help improve productivity and also provide some answers to questions raised in the last article, Is Email A Bigger Productivity Killer Than Marijuana? (UK Study Says Yes).

Importance Of Prioritizing Tasks

I am the first to admit there is no shortage of things to be done. Seriously, who’s “to do” list isn’t overflowing? Famous motivational speaker Brian Tracey says that you will always have things on your to do list and you will never get them all done. Thanks for the vote of confidence Brian! No, in all seriousness, Brian is onto something. There are never enough hours in the day to get all the tasks done that we want to get done, especially if you are running a business.

Knowing that your to do list is a never ending saga, what Brian suggests doing is prioritizing the list. I know it sounds so obvious and simple, but you would be surprised how many people make to do lists filled with meaningless and irrelevant junk when they have serious issues to sort out with their business.

An example to do list:

- Trim the hedges
- Dust cobwebs
- Buy new battery for clock
- Phone xyz
- Fix broken ‘buy now’ button on sales page
- Start an email opt-in form
- Research new product ideas
- Find affiliates for current products

I know it may seem ridiculous when illustrated like this but don’t laugh. The harsh reality is with limited time and so much to do, if you want to make your business work and take it to the next level, you will need to understand that not all your tasks are going to get done. I am not suggesting you become a hermit who lives in a pigsty and never speaks to anyone. I am just saying at the end of the day you need to know you have accomplished your most important tasks. And that can either be having a successful business or having a cobweb free home, which would you rather?

How To Prioritize Tasks

Brian’s idea of prioritizing tasks is super easy. Do your most important tasks first. He thinks usually your most important task is the one you want to avoid, the one you have been putting off. Hence the title of his famous time management book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

Make out your to do list the day before, either as the last part of that day’s work or before you go to bed. This way you can really put some thought into what is really important and what needs to get done, and then you are ready to get started on it the next day.

Another way to look at how to prioritize your tasks and what to put at the very top of your to do list is to ask yourself this question: “If I was only allowed to do one task today, would I be satisfied that I got this one task done?” When you look at managing your time like this you can really start to re-prioritize your to do list and get a clear idea of what is most important for growing your business. If you are still struggling with prioritizing your list, I will make it really easy for you: What task do you need to do today that will make your business money?

Break Your Tasks Down

For those looking for more specific Internet business time management advice, you can’t beat Internet marketer, time management specialist and author of  Double Your Productivity for Life Jason Fladlien.

Jason likes to break tasks down into simple and easy to digest components. He feels the brain is only capable of handling seven bits of information plus or minus two bits. So based on this he takes complicated and often overwhelming tasks such as writing sales copy and breaks it into seven components. Now the task just becomes seven easy to follow steps.

This is how Jason was able to create 30+ products in a few months and quickly make a mark in the Internet marketing scene. I highly recommend you grab his FREE report (no-optin) Time Management Secrets of a Madman.

Get Important Things Done First

Building on prioritizing the to do list, I am a big fan of doing the hard and important tasks first thing in the morning when I am mentally freshest. I have my to do list from the night before, so there is no guessing or fiddling around in the morning.

Legendary copywriter Gary Bencivenga was a big fan of doing a good three hour block of writing in the morning. A phone off the hook, lock the door, no disturb sign on the door type of three hour block. He knew that this block was super productive because he wasn’t tired and he was totally focused. He knew that if he got that three hour block out of the way that he had a productive day and anything else he got done was a bonus. He also realized that a focused three hour block was often more productive than an interrupted normal eight hour work day.

Take Control Of Your Time And Be Non-Reactive

When you are most mentally alert in the morning and you still have some mental fuel in the tank, do not go wasting it on checking email and surfing the net. Take charge of your time and focus. You can decide what you should spend your time and energy on. If the first thing you do is open your email, then you have gone straight into a reactive mode where other people are dictating where your thoughts and energies go.

Tim Ferriss has talked extensively about email management and recommendations of just checking email twice a day. If you find you also don’t have the self-discipline to refrain from browsing and wasting time then you may want to check out another Ferriss recommendation called rescue time. This great piece of software allows you to block websites, but it will also monitor your browsing activity, which can be a real eye opener.

Once you see that you are spending three hours of your work day reading forums instead of actually working, you may just realize how much time you are wasting.

Conclusion

I do not want to come across as a slave master for your business. But I guess the bottom line is: we all want our businesses to be as successful as possible. Besides discussing marketing strategies, I often spend time with my marketing clients helping them get a clearer picture in their head about exactly how their business is going to make money. With this picture in mind, it now becomes easier to prioritize their daily tasks and know what needs to get done now and what can wait.

Leevi Romanik

About Leevi Romanik

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14 Comments

  • My list continues to grow and get more time consuming each day, but this just shows me that I’m being productive and making things happen.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Prioritizing can be difficult, I have actually come up with a number system that ranks its importance and I am able to prioritize using that method.

  • Stop checking email and watching Youtube videos would definitely improve my productivity.

  • Taking up the hardest or the unpleasant task first, makes it easy at the end of the day when we are tired/lazy/unmotivated.

    Good points.

  • Dear Leevi – Nice and refreshing post. I would like to add the 5 D method as mentioned by Brain Tracy in his book. It states that before doing any task, we should check 5 Ds i.e.
    1. Don’t Do it
    2. Delay it
    3. Delegate it
    4. Dissect it
    5. Do it with delight!

    There is a small nice video on Eat that Frog on Youtube, accessible from this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W7GB5Fh2XM

    However, there is no one magic bullet to sort out all time management issues. Also, ideas of Tim Ferris are quite different from Mr. Tracy. What is your opinion about such a difference?

    I have recently written a small E-Book on effective time management; tools and techniques, which is accessible from the following link:

    http://wisdomfrombooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Effective_time_management_E_Book.pdf

    Thanks again for sharing

    best regards

    Malik Mirza
    http://wisdomfrombooks.com

  • A great follow up to your last article Leevi. I would like to share my view on a different angle this time. I am sure some entrepreneurs have days when they simply cannot focus, even with an aid of a list.

    Sometimes we do have to acknowledge that we are human beings, take a break and frequently, a cup of tea is all it takes to snap us out of fidgeting and getting nowhere.

    Also, the art of delegation is worth learning. So if resources allow, having people on board will accomplish more for your business rather than trying to do it all by yourself whilst you and your business suffer from lack of productivity and drive to succeed.

  • Very true said that its very important to understand the priority first and give preference to that task first.

    Its happen many time that due to lack of having skill of understanding priority we do all waste and the main thing remain pending.

    So its better to know this well and get first started with priority so that half of the work done successfully.

  • Ann

    Great points Meg

  • Checking your email again and again can affect productivity in large way. Because there is so much of distraction in your inbox, that you start to loose focus on the things that you are supposed to you.

    I write a lot of to do lists but find it difficult to finish these tasks. I am slowly improving this nowadays. Hope to continue improving.

    Great post Leevi.

  • Hello Leevi thanks for your post,

    I do think that I frequently do use the ‘Eating Frogs’ technique.

    The question ‘How my Business is Going to Make Money’ is an interesting one, and I do think that the answers to that question isn’t that complicated:

    By finding locations on the Internet where I can find like-minded people – like for example somebody like – You - reading this Blog. Somebody like – you – that definitely will also like reading the posts you can find on
    - The Home Business Lifestyle – Blog , Because on it you will discover interesting posts and other Resources that can be helpful for you Home Business.

    Writing it in such a way that you like it so much that you actually like to bookmark it, and like to Re-visitfrequently,

    (See one of the posts that ‘Pop-up’
    in the – Most Popular-widget – titled:

    ‘How Can you Make Your Blog Sticky’

    http://hpshappywriting2.blogspot.com/2010/08/assignment-how-you-can-make-your-blog.html )

    and it goes without saying that you also actually need to be convinced that the products that you can find on it are worthwile to buy.

    ‘As you can see, not that complicated it is as easy as pie’ :)

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business - Inspiration,
    HP

  • I agree with Jane – start with the worst job first and leave the best for last. Also, don’t leave things until the deadline looms.
    I wrote a post about using project lists instead of a daily to do list as this works quite well for me. Within each project I have a list of tasks that are related to that project. Every day I will choose which project to work on and that way I get to focus on what I want to do, while at the same time making progress with a project.
    Thanks for a great post.

  • This is very timely for me Leevi. I would always have stickies of to do things but when something came up and I begin to take interest in it ( like a news feed) I always fail to follow what I have scheduled. Thanks for the tips!

  • I always try to set the priority but my task list continues to grow and at time its difficult for me to do my work according to priority list. And many times it happen that I use to sit at night to complete my pending work.. I am not complaining but sometimes this thing hurts me a lot when my work didn’t show me any positive output.

  • I would say setting realistic tasks is also important

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