Procrastination is one of those things we all seem to struggle with. It is easy to find all sorts of diversion tactics to avoid doing difficult or unpleasant things. Brian Tracey provides some useful advice on dealing with difficult stuff head-on, in his book “Eat that frog”. His first tip is to eat the ugliest frog first! I love the mental image this conjures up!
Certainly, getting the really important things done and out the way, is a critical step to being effective as a manager – or even in life!
Fiona Walsh (Assistant Dean, University of British Columbia) recently suggested that to avoid procrastinating, ask 3 questions:
1. Do I really need to do it?" If the answer is no, scratch it off your list and forget about it!
2. "Am I not doing it because I don't know how to do it?" If yes, then figure out what you need to know to get moving and find a resource to give you the skills you need to get it done.
3. "Am I not doing it because it's stuff I hate doing?" If yes, then source it out.
Going back to our poor frog….What if after you ate the frog you realised you could have avoided it, if you had just waited? Maybe circumstances have changed now and there is no need to eat the ugly frog – or any frog at all!
In my experience, the secret of effective procrastination is to add to the first question and ask: “Do I really need to do it today?” If so, do it now! If not, schedule it on the day you really need to do it!
And for my Australian readers, under no circumstances whatsoever be tempted to actually eat the frog – they are highly poisonous like everything else that moves and breathes in Australia ;-)