Normally I end my articles with a quote, but this time I’m starting with one instead. We’re focusing on, well, focus this month. This quote does an awesome job of reminding us of the importance of prioritization in our lives. Most days we’ll have a challenging or tough task that we need to accomplish. When one of these is on our task list, Twain’s reminding us to knock-it-out immediately.
When we do the hard stuff first thing in the morning, every other task we have to deal with becomes easier. I believe there are two reasons for this:
- We’re rested and better able to concentrate on tasks/matters that require our full mental attention and energy.
- Emotionally, once the hard stuff is done, everything else is a cakewalk in comparison.
Boosting Your Focus
In order to eat a frog or two a day you have to know what constitutes a frog. This means you have to spend some time fully understanding what tasks are needed to accomplish a specific goal or project. Put another way, you need to have a work breakdown structure in place so you can see which tasks will be your frogs.
If you already know the types of work or situations that will cause you to hesitate (i.e. will become your frog), highlight these and plan to put them into your workflow for accomplishment in the morning. If you don’t know that work or situations will cause hang-ups, then begin observing in yourself what type of work keeps you from moving forward without procrastination. Where you do get stuck, identify it as a frog that needs to be eaten.
When you come across hesitation, ask yourself this question: Why am I hesitating on certain tasks? Explore this. Most likely you’re hesitating because of some emotional blockage, e.g. fear, lack of confidence, etcetera.
Schedule this task immediately in your work day. Don’t allow other tasks to push off eating the frog.
I’ve implemented this tactic with moderate success for the past few years. I say ‘moderate’ because I’m not consistent. When I do apply it, I find myself accomplishing the right things needed to move my engineering career and life forward. However, when I don’t apply this tactic, I find myself putting certain tasks off …sometimes repeatedly.
Besides a great method to get things done, eating your daily frog builds a mental toughness that I see as crucial for anyone to become an accomplished engineer leader and a person who can muster intense focus. Because you are forcing yourself to confront the challenging, you and your team/organization can move forward and accomplish more for society.
“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.” ~ Jack Canfield
Christian J. Knutson, P.E., PMP
Engineering Management Institute
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