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To Get More Done, Eat the Frog First

a brown frog breaching the surface of a pond

 I’ve been researching time management and productivity for years.  I have taken courses and given speeches. I am supposed to be a productivity expert, and yet, even though I know the ‘right’ way to do things, I revert back to my old ways – particularly when I am stressed. 

For instance, I start checking my inbox first – I give away my power and time to every one of those emails making what they want from me more important than my priorities.

Tip #1: Make your list first; then check emails and start your day.  Know what your priorities are for your day.

Next, I want to have the reward of checking things off my list, so I start with the little ones first.  It is big ones – the scary ones that I procrastinate on that don’t get done and keep me up at night. 

Tip #2: Eat the frog first – if we would just do the big thing first, we would have better balance, peace and would sleep better.  Think about it, we rush to fill our first two hours with email, meetings and small tasks and leave the afternoon for the big stuff when our energy is lower. 

Tip #3: The first two hours of your day are your most productive.  Don’t let others use up your ‘power time’.

The other thing I do when I feel anxious and that I have a lot on my plate is to skip my quiet time routine.  I just don’t think I have time.  That is always a mistake.  My quiet time is when I get clarity on what I need to focus on personally and professionally and get filled up with my gratitude for my blessings.  When I start my day with this short process, I am more centered and focused and create more space in my day because I know what is most important.

Tip 4: Spend 5-10 minutes each morning quietly meditating, thinking, praying or just being.  All are worthwhile.  Remember the quiet part – no TV, no dings from your phone, etc.

And, last, I don’t always take the time on Friday afternoon and Monday morning to get organized.  Being focused takes some energy and time. 

Tip #5: Use Friday afternoon to clean off your desk, file and look at the week ahead.  On Monday morning, take a few minutes to review your calendar and tasks.  Prioritize your tasks in some way. 

Tip 6: Remember to put you on your list.  Make appointments with yourself for what is important in your life — your faith, your health and family and friends.  It is easy to let these things go when we feel overwhelmed and our cup is empty.  To fill up our cups, we have to do those things that take care of us, that lift us up,  and make us know that the “doing “is making some sense. 

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