I’ve just come off a coaching call with one of my non-profit clients. She’s dynamic, dedicated and efficient but was thrown by her latest annual appraisal. She’d missed a few targets and was overwhelmed by the thought of working even harder. “I already put in way more hours that I should,” she told me, clearly struggling with the stress of trying to do her job well. “How on earth am I going to eke out even more from my day?”
Good question. I know I’ve asked that of myself many times and I expect you have too. How can I get even more done in a day? How can I be super-productive and efficient, and whizz though my to-do list while also doing a good job? We all of us work hard and want to do our very best for our organisations. But sometimes the amount to do can just seem utterly overwhelming, can’t it?
And then, you just feel like giving up, right?
I absolutely get it.
Tame Your Time
But, you know, the more Taming Time trainings I run (my time and self-management workshops designed especially for non-profits), the more convinced I am that it’s not about getting more done. It’s about getting more of the right things done, at the right time.
The fact is we can’t be super-effective all the time. We’re not robots. There are going to be days when tiredness and distractions win out and we fail to prioritise what’s important. I think I probably have more than a few ‘fluffy’ hours a day when I’m not at my best. My guess is that you do too.
So we need to work with that. Ploughing on hour after hour to get through the to-do list, feeling exhausted and stressed, and probably quite fed up too, is not the answer.
Eat that frog!
In my Taming Time training I teach participants a prioritising strategy called ‘eat that frog’ (or the gentler veggie version, ‘squeeze that frog’). The idea – from the Brian Tracy book Eat That Frog – is that before you do anything else – and I mean anything else beyond a quick email sweep to make sure there’s nothing super urgent – you tackle the task which will have the very greatest impact on your work. It’s highly likely to be a job you’re not especially keen on doing. A job that might be quite a challenge. A job you’d really rather put off – and probably have been.
The beauty of squeezing the frog first thing is that whatever happens with the rest of your day, even if you go totally off the boil or the whole day is a merry dance of interruptions, it doesn’t matter so very much. You’ve got the most vital thing done.
And, as well as getting it done, you feel really good about it. It kicks the endorphins around your body and fires you up for other work, especially if you give your squeaky frog a nice, big, noisy squeeze in celebration.*
Your nastiest frog
So, have a think now. What are the three yuckiest, ugliest, wartiest frogs sitting on your plate right now? (Break bigger jobs into particular tasks that need doing, if you need to). Could you schedule in three of these to tackle over the next three days, one first thing each morning?
If you’re really honest with yourself you’ll know which of your pieces of work most needs a mighty big squeeze.
Over to you
So, how do you usually start your day? Do you prioritise the most important job and get it done? Or does 6 o’clock come around and you wonder where on earth the day went? See yourself squeezing that frog? I’d love to hear what you think, so do hit ‘reply’ and leave a comment.
If you (or your reports) need help with prioritising and getting things done, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 772 7808 for a no-obligation chat to see how Taming Time can help.
*Want one of my squeaky frogs? They come free with Taming Time.