Susan's Thursday morning note April 24, 2008 Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy Setting Goals, Evaluating Things to do by Priority
If you are like most people today, you are overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time…for this reason, and perhaps more than ever before, your ability to select your most important task at each moment, and then to get started on that task and to get it done both quickly and well, will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop.
An average person who develops the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks completed will run circles around a genius who talks a lot and makes wonderful plans but who gets very little done.
Only about 3% of adults have clear, written goals. These people accomplish 5 and 10 times as much as people of equal or better education and ability but who, for whatever reason, have never taken the time to write out exactly what they want. One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.
Always work from a list. When something new comes up, add it to the list before you do it. You can increase productivity & output by 25% or more – about 2 hours a day – from the first day you begin working consistently from a list. Make your list the night before…
80/20 Rule "Pareto Principle in 1895" - 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results (if you have a list of 10 items to do, 2 of those items will turn out to be worth 5-10x more than the other 8 put together). Each of the 10 tasks may take the same amount of time to accomplish. 1-2 tasks will contribute 5-10x the value of the others. One item on a list of 10 tasks that you have to do can be worth more than all the other 9 items put together. This is the "frog" you should eat first. The sad fact is that most people procrastinate on the top 10-20% of items that are the most valuable and important, the "vital few." They busy themselves instead with the least important 80%, the "trivial many" that contribute little to results.
You must have a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term - this makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term...Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term. Three questions for maximum productivity: 1) What are my highest value activities? The biggest frogs that I must eat to make the greatest contribution to my family, my life, my work? Like focusing the lens of a camera - we must be crystal clear about your highest-value activities before you begin. (delegate or eliminate the others from your list) 2) What can I and only I do that if done will make a real difference? - something only I can do to get to the goal? 3) What is the most valuable use of my time right now? What is my biggest frog at this moment? Ask this question constantly. (Goethe said, Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.) You will never have time for all you'd like to do. You have to procrastinate on something. Procrastinate on low-value activities. Say no to anything not high-value for your time and your life. "Your dance card is full." For you to do something new, you must complete or stop doing something old. Continually review your duties and responsibilities to identify time-consuming tasks and activities that you can abandon with no real loss. Cut down on television, spend time with family, read, exercise, enhance the quality of your life.
ABCDE Rule for thinking on paper: Use this technique every day: Make your list. Then place the letters in front of each task…then get busy tackling your A’s!
A: Must do. This task will have a serious positive or negative consequence if you fail to do it.
B: Should do. Only mild consequences if you can’t. Never do a B task if you have an A task undone.
C. Nice to do. No consequences at all whether you do it or not.
D. Delegate to someone else. Free up your time for your A tasks.
E. Eliminate. When eliminated altogether it won’t make any real difference in your personal and family goals. What are you involved in because important at one time or out of habit?
(every moment on an E task takes you away from what will make a real difference in your or your family’s life.)
Quick List Method – (Print this part & make yourself do this – only will take you 4 minutes!)
Only give 30 seconds to your answers to find the most important goals in life right now…(more accurate answers because the way our brains work than thinking for several hours). When you force yourself to ask and answer each of these questions in 30 seconds or less, you will be amazed at the answers. Whatever your answers, they will usually be an accurate snapshot of your true situation in life at that moment. These answers will tell you what is really important to you.
What are three most important goals in life right now?
What are your three most important business or career goals right now?
What are your three most important family or relationship goals right now?
What are your three most important financial goals right now?
What are your three most important health goals right now?
What are your three most important personal and professional development goals right now?
What are your three most important social and community goals right now?
What are your three biggest problems or concerns in life right now?
Face-to-Face - One main goal is to get more done (eating your frog) in less time to spend more "face time" with people you care about. Not time with people on-line. Higher quality of life at home and with friends.
How often to reevaluate our goals, our lists? "How often does a tightrope walker balance when on the high wire? All the time." You never reach a point where you have attained it perfectly. You have to work at it. Never lose sight of the real reasons why you work as hard as you do & why you are so determined to accomplish the very most with the time you invest - to spend face-to-face with people you love. I did not even touch the surface of his ideas (practical) for mental, physical, spiritual goals and reaching them. He discusses the time consumption of electronics (including e-mails), interruptions...I was able to apply his ideas to myself in my business, to myself as a mother (what are my goals for my time with Camden?), to myself as a wife, to myself as a friend. This book is excellent. Completely marked up & with goals all over in margins. Why should we not seek to learn how manage our lives? Do we want to be the "busy" person, or the "effective" person? Goals, lists...we can learn to prioritize, but I truly believe that we need leaders that know what they're talking about to give us our systems. Just 15 minutes a day of reading for me - that's all I usually get in, and yet look how much I can read in a week. Just 30 minutes earlier getting up before Camden. Uninterrupted time to set goals and think without interruption. Look what a difference that has made, now I'm going to change that to being an hour so that I can get a frog eaten before interruption (even if my goal is silence - that is an A to me on my list of priorities).
I am inspired – with the business to continually add what you need us to carry, to give you privacy when you need time alone, to give you friendship and a smile when you need encouraged, to give you quality books, creative, unique gifts, to keep your mind growing, even in the middle of Nebraska (“in the boonies!”) Thank you for letting me read for you, thank you for giving me the ideas of what to read, for I take your suggestions seriously. Have a great week! Do not be overwhelmed by anything. Look up to the skies – your help is there, and drop a foot to your knees. You are promised and will be given a peace that is beyond you or others’ understanding. Susan
Latin for this week: Omne initium est difficile – Every beginning is difficult. Omnium rerum principia parva sunt – "Everything has a small beginning" (Cicero).
Works Cited: Tracy, Brian. Eat That Frog. San Francisco. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 2006.