No more procrastinating. Get busy eatin' them frogs!

Brian Tracy's book, Eat that Frog! is a quick read. I'd highly recommend getting yourself a copy, if only to browse through while you are doing laundry. You'll be done before your clothes are dry! It is so clear and bullet-pointed that you won't waste time reading pages and pages of fluff. And, he gives so much great advice, that some of it is sure to be helpful. Even if you feel really on top of things, I'd still pick it up to maximize your productivity.

His main suggestion is to prioritize what is most important/difficult (the "frogs" in your life tasks) first, before doing anything else. He suggests that you focus on areas that will give you the greatest return in reaching your goal. For us academics, and, particularly for a postdoc like me, it is easy to identify our "key result area": Publishing. So, he advocates starting the day by working on tasks that will lead to publishing, this would be writing. So start the day by writing if you want to get published.

Apart from that, I'd say his suggestions fall into three broad categories: Planning, Execution and Attitude. Planning is important in terms of identifying your goals, setting your focus areas, and making a list of what you want to achieve, breaking it down by year, month and day. He suggests planning your day the night before, so that you can subconsciously start thinking about what you have to do the next day. He also advocates a priority system for lists, so that you can start with the most urgent tasks first.

In terms of execution, as mentioned above, his biggest suggestion is to go for the maximizing task first, the one that will produce the results to get your goal. He also suggests "slicing and dicing," which is cutting up large tasks into smaller slices before tackling them. In writing this would be working on a section/paragraph/sentence at a time. Another method is the "swiss cheese" approach, which is not as methodical as slices, but just doing what you can to make some dents in the task. For us writers, this would be freewriting where we can in our document. Finally, taking it one task at a time, with a singular focus, gets you all the way to the end. This is the whole driving in the dark approach to writing -- when you get in the car, you can only see as far as your headlights, but it takes you all the way from start to finish.

As for attitude, he's a big cheerleader and motivator, and wants us to adopt a similar stance within ourselves, so we become what he calls "action oriented." Ultimately, Tracy suggests that one adopt the student-of-self posture. This appeals to us academics, because we like to study things. So study yourself, your habits, what works, what doesn't, and keep fine tuning yourself!


EcoGeoFemme said...

I really like the frog analogy.

AliceAcademic said...

It does convey how unpleasant some of these things seem to feel before you get them done.