do the frogs first & get your shit together


In 2014 while I was working at a CED non-profit, I attended a professional development training day on productivity. The session was hosted by productivity ninja's from think productive.  It was called something like, "stress less, achieve more." Those of you that have worked for a non-profit, or any entrepreneur for that matter, have probably thought to themselves that they wished they had more time in a day so that they can achieve more, and well, stress less. So the title of this training session really resonated with me! I thought - "Yes! I'd love to get more shit done in a shorter amount of time. Who wouldn't?" Followed by - "But how could I give up a whole day of work to learn about being more productive? I'll just fall further behind! uhh."

Well,  in short, I'm glad I went. Because this professional development session, if you actually implement their suggestions, can change your productivity tremendously. It did for me.

Without going into too much detail and give away all of their tricks and secrets, here are two takeaways that I still implement every week.

The first:

Do the FROGS first! Or as Brian Tracey says, Eat the Frog first!

Do the things you hate doing before you do everything else. Or do the most difficult task first. Get them over with and out of the way, so you can forget about them and clear space in your mind for more meaningful, creative, or fun work. Don't waste time and energy procrastinating or dreading the frogs, because it's only making you less efficient! 

My brain usually has a thousand tabs open, with mind maps of ideas that I want to dig into. I sometimes have a hard time staying focused on one, because an idea for another will distract me. There are so many creative and interesting projects to dig my teeth into.  It's not a bad spot to be in.  BUT, like any job, there are things that I procrastinate doing. I put off, and rewrite them on list after list. Sometimes for an embarassingly long time. For me, it's data entry. For reporting reasons, I need to log my client contact hours which includes categorizing the type of contact, duration, and additional notes for every client contact. I hate it. But if i don't do it, it piles up and i forget what i've been doing. 

So now, I quit complaining and do them first. Instead of wasting energy, dreading it all week.  

The second piece of advice I still implement is:

Have a weekly check-in time to get your life, job & shit together. Clear your desk, organize your expenses, update and double check your calendar. Update your lists. Prioritize short and long term goals. Have some free mind time to reflect. Get that inbox down to zero. Whatever you need to do to have an efficient workspace, do it. And make regular, scheduled time for it. For me, I do this first thing Monday morning before I do the frog. I need about 1.5 hours depending on the week. Other's schedule them for the end of the week because that's when the rest of their work slows down. It's really something that you can do in all parts of your life. Because basically it's time to check-in with yourself, your job and get mentally ready for the race. 

If you have a chance to attend one of these productivity workshops, I'd definitely recommend it! It's worth every penny.