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One Simple Way to Reduce Procrastination

Here´s a tip I picked up a few years ago when I used to sell computers and cell-phones.

One of the managers told us that each work-day you should start with doing the hardest, the toughest and worst thing first.

Maybe it was calling a customer and telling them that their computer wouldn´t be fixed within a week like we had said, but in three weeks. Well, often it was something like that. Making phone-calls or doing things that wasn’t much fun.

But if you did it then it was done. And you didn´t have to spend the rest of the day worrying about it.

If I didn´t do it right away – which I of course often didn´t :) – then it would hang over me a like a gloomy rain-cloud that just grew bigger and bigger as the day went on. And the negative feelings would build up to the point that I would put the task of until the very end of the day or even the next day.

Last summer I was reminded of this tip when I read Brian Tracy´s Eat That Frog!. In the book he outlines 21 tips for overcoming procrastination and goes on to say that we all have one or a few frogs – often unpleasant tasks – that we have to swallow each day. But if you can at least eat it early in the day you don´t have to spend the day watching the frog burping and jumping around before you eat it.

I am still pretty inconsistent with swallowing my frogs early but when I do I feel relaxed and become quite productive for the rest of the day. I have found that when you´ve started with swallowing the frog you not only get a boost for your self-esteem but also that the rest of the tasks that day often seem pretty easy to get done.

I think that developing this into a daily habit could be very useful to reduce procrastination overall and to raise motivation and productivity. So I shall try to make it a habit of swallowing my frogs early in the day.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Carolyn Manning April 26, 2007, 6:33 pm

    Henrik, this such sound advice. If we’d train ourselves to do it each day, there’s no doubt we’d be a lot happier. I, too, am inconsistent, at best. Do you ever find yourself deliberately distracting yourself with little nothing tasks to avoid the frogs?

  • John Wesley April 26, 2007, 6:56 pm

    Henrik,

    I agree with this advice completely. Too often we sit down first thing in the morning and start reading email, checking the news, and before we know it the day is half gone.

  • Henrik Edberg April 26, 2007, 7:45 pm

    Carolyn and John,
    thanks for your comments. I definitely find myself distracing myself with the smaller tasks so I can eat my frogs “sometime later today”. :)
    But I have cut down a lot on “what I need to do” on the computer – checking RSS-feeds etc. – and elsewhere which reduces the deliberate distracting.

  • Pamela April 27, 2007, 10:02 am

    I agree with your thought about procrastination. We need to do the big and important task right away inorder to avoid worrying. If it wasn’t important, then we don’t have to worry about it.

  • HP van Duuren April 27, 2007, 11:46 pm

    That seems to be a smart strategie to be Happy about.

    All the Best,
    HP

    (http://hpshappy.blogspot.com)

  • Attila Borcsa April 28, 2007, 7:56 am

    Henrik,
    I give my vote too for your advice. This is very much valid in the context of a job. That is really good for improving work moral.

    On the other side, there are situations when it is better to do it the other way. Like when taking an exam. There you should start with what you are sure you know and postpone the difficult ones until you’re done with the easy ones. Or you may run out of time.

    Cheers.

  • Alan April 30, 2007, 2:54 am

    I agree with you. Procrastination is one of the main factors of improper time management. I believe that clearing our tasks of the hardest and toughest jobs by doing it first is a good way of preventing procrastination.

  • Jackie Cameron April 30, 2007, 4:51 pm

    Henrik

    I have a phobia of frogs and now that you have planted that picture in my mind I will either have to stay under the duvet each day or tackle the frog as soon as I get going!
    Made me smile though…

    Jackie

  • Fran May 2, 2007, 5:03 am

    You are right about that. Worrying will affect our performance and will make our work even longer. We just need to start the day fresh so that we will be ready in facing the hardest task of the day.

  • Karenlim May 2, 2007, 4:27 pm

    I think the main thing is to focus. Like doing a business, especially for one man show. That is so much for one to do at 1 time.

    In the past, I had hard time trying to tell myself to focus. I will be thinking I need to do this, read that, send this out etc. Then sometimes panic sets in when I can’t get my task completed by targeted timeframe.

    It is not until I use music that has scientifically tested to enhance my focus power, then I found clarity towards what’s especially important for me to complete and I live my days in that direction since.

  • Bigimon May 3, 2007, 8:08 pm

    Yeah, I meant to post on this earlier, but just never go around to it. This is a good tip! I’ll have to put this on my To Do list.

  • Graphic Designer in Roanoke, Va May 7, 2007, 4:51 am

    I’ll definitely be making this a daily task on RememberTheMilk

  • Daniel August 10, 2007, 9:34 pm

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article imple Way to Reduce Procrastination at Personal Development with The Positivity Blog, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  • David Bradley Blogging October 4, 2007, 11:40 am

    Is there a blog plugin for procrastination? It would be soooo cool, it could have dozens of options that might take hours to get just right, it could even have it’s own outbound links panel to timewasting sites like Digg and Facebook so that you could get distracted even more easily. Someone really ought to write it, if it doesn’t exist. I’d do it myself, but I’ve got all these paperclips to unfold…

    db