Every Sunday night I spend about 45 minutes doing a weekly review. This has helped me immensely to see where my strengths and weaknesses in my productivity systems. I can do a whole post on my weekly review, as a matter of fact now I have my blog fodder for next weeks post.
Last week I felt as if I had a great week. One of my goals for the week was to make sure I got done a lot more of my to-do items listed in Evernote every day. At the end of the week, I felt I had done that so we had success. Then I started looking at it deeper during the weekly review.
All was not as it seemed
So there I was on Sunday night all proud of how many checkmarks I had completed during the week. Then it hit me, I had a horrible week. I had three items that I really wanted to make progress on.
- Complete more of my to-do tasks each day
- Complete two more chapters in my Certified Personal Trainer studying
- Develop the idea for my underprivileged kids health foundation deeper
When I started looking back at my week and doing my review I realized I had made great strides in completing the little tasks on my to-do list, but I had failed miserably in making progress on my big to-do items that will really move the ball forward long term.
Know your big frogs
If you read David Allen’s Getting Things Done book, or any of Brian Tracy’s books, you know what the big frogs are. Frogs are the big items that are hard to swallow, but really move the ball forward. As an example let’s say you wanted to start a foundation to help underprivileged kids. You had an idea, and now you needed to start formulating it.
Your to-do list may look like this for the day
- Formulate plan with dates for foundation idea Get eggs and chicken at store Run 3 miles
- Call bank for work
- Email Sarah about project Process inbox zero
- Write a blog post
- Check the blog for new comments and reply
- Spend 20 minutes interacting with other blogs and Google Plus
- Call for an update on Marshall file
- Check Facebook for birthdays
- Install new software
As you can see by this list, there are a bunch of things to do today. Many of these are short little items that do not take a lot of thinking and I can plow through them. Then there is the “formulate plan with dates for foundation.” This item is a larger idea that may take you a couple of hours and require some serious thought.
So the problem with my system last week, was I was focusing on all of the little stuff. I wanted the satisfaction of checking off the box as completed. The big items, the big goals, my big frogs, were usually saved for last when I had a large block of time. After all, seeing all those check marks at the end of the day felt great.
My problem? At the end of the week I made very little progress on my big items which are really going to move the ball forward for me in the long run. I was to wrapped up in the daily minutia of it all.
Eat your frogs first
So what to do? This week I am working the plan backwards. One of my goals for the week is to eat my big frog first every day. When I made my plan for the week there were three projects I wanted to get done, or at least make progress on this week. These are my big goals I am working towards right now. I am going to make sure that these items are moved forward and worked on every day before I get to my list of to-dos for the day. After all, is it more important that I complete my big items or install that new software I downloaded?
My challenge for you
I challenge you to figure out what three things you should be working on first. If you are having problems figuring those out go back to January 1st and look at your New Year’s resolutions? Your resolutions list for the year probably did not include things like checking comments on your blog or checking Facebook. It probably had larger items like start the new business, pass a certification or lose 20 pounds. These items on this list are your big frogs and should be tackled first.
If you do not have a list then make one now. Figure out three to five items that you want to accomplish in the next year or two. Once you have those figured out you will know what you need to eat first every morning.
What tips do you have in making sure you get the important things in your life done?