Procrastination: Of Eating Elephants and Frogs.

What do you do when you have a large project to work on? Are you overwhelmed by it the sheer size and scope of the project?  Do you find yourself pushing the project further down your To Do list?  Is there one particular item on your To Do list that has been on there for a while because you just don’t want to do it?  What is a procrastinator to do? 

There are two phrases frequently quoted around task management. 

  • The first is a riddle: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” 
  • And the other is an anecdote: “Eat that frog.” 

Both conjure up some fairly grotesque images in my mind, but are great concepts with regard to procrastination.

How to Eat an Elephant

When we have a have a daunting project ahead of us, often, our first response is to just write the whole thing on our To Do list (e.g. prepare my speech).  But when a project is that big, it can’t be done in one fell swoop.  It’s an “elephant” and needs to be broken down into bite-sized pieces.  Ask yourself, what is the very first step in the project?  If the project is preparing a speech, the first task might be to choose the topic for your speech.   Once that task is completed, add the next step to your To Do list, maybe to draft the outline.

How to Eat a Frog

On other hand, if the task is manageable in scope but one that you are dreading doing, you might find yourself avoiding it, time and time again.  The way to handle that kind of problem is to “eat that frog.”  In other words, you need to put it at the very top of your To Do list and discipline yourself to get it done before doing anything else.  Like a jagged pill, you just have to take it and get it over with.  When you have done that, you will be able to take credit for getting it done.  And now you can successfully move on.

If you’d like to learn more about conquering procrastination, read Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog.

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