Archive for May, 2011

Do you suffer from procrastination?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

"When I get the feeling to do something, I lie down until the feeling goes away"

We’re all guilty of it, and know we’re doing it, so just why do we put things off?  When you finally decide to start that project you know has to be done, tidying up your desk, or making a coffee suddenly become quite appealing.

There are many reasons why we delay doing the important but not urgent stuff:

  • The project is so big you don’t know where to start.
  • The project isn’t interesting.
  • You have too long to do the task.
  • You don’t like the task you need to do.

We put off the majority of important tasks because they are too overwhelming. They are too complex or time consuming for us to handle.

Swiss Cheese Technique

Alan Lakein suggests the Swiss Cheese Technique.

  • Pick a small task related to the main project & do it.
  • Follow this task with another small, easy & instant task & do it.

This process is dubbed as poking holes in the cheese. Eventually the cheese gets filled with holes, you get more and more involved in the project and it becomes much easier.

Don’t try and bite the same hole out of the cheese twice. If you tried one task and it didn’t lead to involvement, just try another task. Use the same technique for unpleasant tasks – do little 5 minute tasks then do something else.

Eat the ugly frog first!

Mark Twain said that, suppose tomorrow morning the first that you do, is catch a live frog, stuff it into your mouth, munch it down and swallow it all up. Once you did that, the day can’t get much worse now can it?

Therefore every morning, find the ugliest most repulsive task that you have on your to-do list (i.e. your frog) and knock that off before getting on to doing anything else. Once you’ve got that done, the rest of the day when you’re doing the easy tasks would seem like relishing your favourite dessert.

Brian Tracy, author of ‘Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’, takes the analogy further:

  • If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.
  • When you’ve got two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
  • You cannot eat every tadpole and frog in the pond, but you can eat the biggest and ugliest one.
  • How do you eat your biggest, ugliest frog? The answer is: “One bite at a time.” i.e. you break it down into specific step by step activities and then start on the first one.
  • You should never be distracted by a tadpole when a big frog is sitting there waiting to be eaten.


Are you putting of making a big decision?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

We make decisions every day. What to wear, which route to take, how to spend our money. The smaller decisions are relatively easy because you can probably cope with the result of making the wrong decision. But what about the bigger decisions?

What stops us from making decisions? In most cases it's the fear of getting it wrong.

'Fear' is expecting something unpleasant to happen in the future, based on the experience of something that happened in the past.

Do you remember the last 'bad' or 'wrong' decision you made? How did you manage with the fallout, the embarrassment, picking up the pieces?

The unconscious fear behind making a big decision, more often than not, is whether we can cope if we make the 'wrong decision'.

Before you make a big decision, consider whether you can handle it if it's the wrong decision. A good way of helping you to have more faith in your decision making is to determine what your style is. What's working and what's not?

Review your most recent 'good' decisions. How did you make the decision? What was your decision making strategy? Was it based on gut instinct, how it would affect other people, or was it based on fact, rationale and research. Or maybe a mixture?

I have found it useful to make a list of all the good decisions I've made and how I made them, then a list of the poor decisions I made – and how I made them. It's interesting to see a theme emerging!

My natural style is to follow my gut instinct, my emotions. I decide whether I like someone and gather personal recommendations. Yet often I forget to gather solid facts and figures and do the research. Now that I'm aware of where I've been going wrong, I know that it's important for me to use my logical and rationale side, as well as my emotional side.

Look on the bright side, when you make a wrong decision, at least you can learn from the experience. If you choose to of course.

"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions." Anon

Getting your prorities right

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

How long is your To Do list today? Is it longer or shorter than yesterday? Do you have items on it that have been there for more than a week? A month? Or longer??

To Do lists are a great way of getting things done, as long as you are prioritising and completing tasks, and making sure you tackle the Important as well as the Urgent.

How do you choose which task to complete next on your list? The easiest? The quickest? The next one down the list?

I used to find myself scanning the list and doing the easiest and quickest tasks, which meant the more time consuming ones rarely moved to the top of the list. And it was the time consuming ones that were generally the important ones, like re-designing my website, or reading up on a new coaching technique.

The first step is to prioritise. Assess each item and decide which is urgent v important – you will know – and allocate how long the task will take.

For more information see Steven Covey's Urgent v Important matrix, get his excellent book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'. This is Habit 3 – Put First Things First.

Now split your list into three:
1) Long term list, 2) Short term list, 3) Daily list, using the 5 D's approach:

  • Do it – if it takes less than 5 minutes
  • Delegate it – who else is quicker and smarter at completing this?
  • Dump it – has it been on your list for more than 6 months? If it IS important, diarise it.
  • Defer it – Put it on your long term To Do list and re- assess in 3 months
  • Diarise it – be realistic with how long it will take, if necessary break it down into small actions.

Rename your daily To Do list, to become the 'Will Do' list.

This daily list should only contain the 2 or 3 important tasks that you WILL complete by the end of the day!