Eating the Frog, Touching Things Once, and Other Ways to Get Stuff Done
By Drew Holmes
I lost productivity today for a silly reason: I could not get out of my own head. I do the usual things to make the most of my working hours (make a list the night before, have a daily routine, know when you are going to stop working, etc.) but today I was stopped in my tracks by a task I did not want to do.
The task at hand was to file my retail licensing documents with the State of Colorado. I got to the box that asked for number and value of transactions and immediately had the gut reaction of “I don’t have time to research that, I’ll do it later.”
How many times do we tell ourselves this and put it off again and again? We flag the email for later, file the paper back in the “To Do” pile, do not immediately respond to the voice mail. The undone task starts to weigh us down and we waste mental energy justifying not doing it while then not moving on to accomplish our other daily goals.
I finally decided to just do the undesirable task (sometimes called eating the frog) and get the documents filed. You know what? It only took 30 minutes. I wasted at least that much time convincing myself that it was too big of a job to do right now. A friend of mine told me that author Tom Hopkins has a philosophy on this kind of thing: “Touch it once.” If it is an undesirable task (like eating a frog) do it once, do it right, and move on.
Postscript: I did it again! I have been putting off writing a sales letter for a product I’m super excited about because I know to do it right will take time and research. And rather than break it down into smaller steps spread out over time I kept telling myself that “I’ll set aside time and do it tomorrow”. Well guess what? There’s always something tomorrow that will keep you from getting the thing done.
So instead of trying to eat the whole elephant in one sitting (another animal analogy!) I simplified the process. I don’t really need a full sales letter for this product right now, because I’m just trying to get the word out on what I call The Three W’s:
What is it?
Why is it cool?
Why do I need one?
Most of what goes into this is the same as a full on sales letter, but I can write this format super fast and as a video script, which will save time since what I really want in the end is to create video content showing how awesome this thing is! So tonight, I wrote my WWW and tomorrow (since it’s getting late and Timmy isn’t sleeping so soundly) I’ll record the video.
I know what I want, I have a plan, and I have budgeted the time. Now all that’s left is to follow through. And that I know I can do.