“People who take a long view of their lives and careers always seem to make much better decisions about their time and activities than people who give very little thought to the future.” ~ Brian Tracy
Folks who lead a fun and meaningful life know how to fight for the long-run. They’re laser focused and take small steps every day to get closer to their goals. They act according to their top priorities. They know what’s important to them, which means they also know what to ignore.
This is where most people get stuck. They do things they believe are important, but don’t actually get them where they want to go. In this final lesson, I’ll teach you how to get the most important things done.
Eat That Frog
Mark Twain has said:
“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
Your frog is your most important task. In other words, it’s the activity that will give you the most results.
I have some bad news. The frog ain’t gonna look any prettier the more you stare at it. Trust me, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the frog is there and you have to eat it. The sooner you eat it, the better you will feel afterwards.
So, what is your biggest frog right now? If you’re anything like me, you hate your frogs and you avoid them like the plague. You’d rather clean the whole apartment, help your friend with her Master’s thesis, and do the dishes before you eat that frog.
Take comfort. You don’t have to eat the whole frog at once. You can’t swallow frogs that way; in fact, you have to slice them up and eat one piece at a time. Let’s look at ways you can do that, so you can get on with your day.
The Pareto Principle and the 10/90 rule
The best way to eat a frog is to set the table and plan your meal. Author Brian Tracy gives us a few useful time management tips in his bestselling book Eat That Frog!
You may already have heard about the famous Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule. It suggests that eighty percent of our results come from twenty percent of our efforts. Many companies use the Pareto principle to locate their most profitable activities. You can start doing the same thing but for your life. Find out what activities gives you the most results. Perhaps you’re spending time on tasks that add little or no beneficial results. You can delegate or eliminate these tasks altogether.
The rule that stuck out the most, though, was the 10/90 rule. At first, I confused it with the Pareto principle, but that was a silly mistake on my behalf. The 10/90 rule states that if we spend 10 percent on planning and organising our task beforehand (i.e. making sure we have all the tools we need, a clear plan of action, etc.), we can save 90 percent on the actual completion of the task. Think about how much time you could save by simply spending a few extra minutes creating an outline or writing down your plan of attack.
Take time do that now. Look at your frog and slice it up into smaller parts. Which part could you eat first? It’s totally fine to cut up your frog in many different pieces. I do it all the time and it works for me.
Once you’ve sliced it up, it’s time to get to work.
The Pomodoro Technique
One of my favourite methods to get my most important work done is to use a timer.
It sounds simple, but it’s also very effective. I’ve used this method when I wrote these lessons. I’d sit down at my desk, draw a short outline, and then set the timer on 20, 30, or 50 minutes. I’d focus on a particular section and then I’d get to work. No excuses.
The time varied for my sessions. Sometimes, when I had a lot of energy, I’d put it on 50 minutes. In most cases, I worked in shorter bursts, ranging from 20 to 30 minutes. I’d cheat and put the timer in the kitchen, so I’d force myself to get out of my chair and walk away from the screen (it makes this really annoying noise that I can’t ignore).
The Pomodoro technique is a great way to trick yourself into becoming more productive. You’re also making sure that you’re taking a lot of breaks and re-fueling your body with water and snacks. These things are very important for our productivity, but unfortunately we often forget about them.
Remember to eat your frog one piece at a time. Use a timer to help you stay focused on the task at hand. If you find yourself procrastinating, try cutting a smaller piece, and set the timer for a shorter time. It’s better to spend 20 minutes on a very important task than it is for you to spend 50 minutes on a useless task that’s not giving you any results.
What’s the best use of your time right now? Slice up that frog, put on that timer, and start eating that frog!
This is the end of your 10-part e-class on creating a fun and meaningful life! You can take these 10 simple lessons right now and use them to make the most of your day. This kind of personal development will build a strong foundation on which you can plant and grow your dreams.
Your final wrap-up “lesson” will be a PDF checklist for creating the life of your dreams. You’ll get that in the next 1-2 days.
Of course, I’ll continue to send you regular updates when I find cool resources or techniques that I think you’ll want to know more about. I’ll only point you to stuff I think is fantastic, and if I don’t have anything interesting to say, you won’t hear from me. 🙂
Thanks so much for being a remarkable student. Take care, and don’t worry, I’ll be in touch!
All the best,
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