I read an article on Huffington Post the other day about tweaking your routine to increase productivity and came across the term “eating a frog.” Ok first of all, frogs are gross. They look weird, sound weird and move weird. I’ve never in my life had a desire to eat a frog. Never. Nor do I think I ever will. It means nothing to me that frogs are, to some cultures, considered a delicacy. But I digress. And now that you’re intrigued, I’ll tell you what it refers to. Eating a frog means to start the morning working on something that requires a high level of concentration, knocking it off the to do list early. The article points out that making it a habit to eat three frogs before checking email or succumbing to other distractions will limit the amount of wasted mental energy. If you do the things that seem more daunting first, they’ll likely take you less time to complete than if you save them for the end of the day.
To be frank, my initial instinct has always been to do the more manageable things first when in fact; it really does make more sense to jump right into the more challenging tasks in the morning while the mind is still fresh. There have been countless times when 4 p.m. would hit and I’d find myself just starting a press release. I know, I know… why would I put myself through that?! I’ve asked that very question to myself more times than I’d like to admit. But I’m learning as I go and have finally started to see how eating a frog and accomplishing bigger assignments first sets me up for a successful and productive day.
In an effort to help you never find yourself starting a press release at 4 p.m., here are a few things I’ve found through my experience that help maximize productivity at work:
- Eat a hearty breakfast. Don’t let hunger take control of your day! Beat it to the punch and nourish your body and mind before the day gets rolling so you don’t find yourself focusing on what and when you’re going to eat.
- Keep a to do list. Even if you don’t stick to it to a tee throughout the day, it’s still helpful to have at least an idea of what you’re setting out to accomplish.
- Stay organized. Everyone has his or her own system but at the end of the day, having a solid grasp on what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for and when it needs to be done translates into smart and impactful work.
- Build breaks into your day. I’ll be honest, this one I am still trying to master. But I’m finding that taking a brain break, even if just for 5 minutes, can help give you that second wind that’s almost always needed at some point during the day.
When it all boils down, none of the above will even be possible if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. Sleep, my friends, is key. Approaching a busy day with a solid sleep under your belt makes me feel borderline invincible and prepared to handle just about anything that finds its way into my inbox, no matter how complex and thought-provoking the request may be.
To keep it simple, I’ll leave you with these parting words: rest up, wake up and eat a frog.