In "Eat that Frog," Brian Tracy offers finance leaders insights for increasing productivity and organization.
In "Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time," author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy tackles one of the most pervasive and costly challenges that businesses face today: procrastination.
The Harvard Business Review notes that 95 percent of people have admitted to procrastinating — and that, of course, has a significant impact on the bottom line. Quartz recently reported that people spend 77 minutes per day watching videos unrelated to work, and CEO Today notes that research has shown total procrastination may reach two hours — or 25 percent of the average workday.
Here's a closer look at some of Tracy's top tips for increasing productivity and helping employees get back on track when procrastination strikes.
1. Find Your Frog: The Most Important Task
The frog is a metaphor for the most important task on your plate. As Tracy writes, "If you are like most people today, you are overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. As you struggle to get caught up, new tasks and responsibilities just keep rolling in, like the waves of the ocean. Because of this, you will never be able to do everything you have to do." It's a dire observation, but it resonates. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, Americans are stressed for a variety of reasons, from politics to finances. Tracy suggests that combating stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed starts with being selective and identifying your most important priority. He notes that "your ability to select your most important task at each moment ... will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop." Encourage employees to evaluate their responsibilities and tasks at a high level and determine what they should be focused on each day.
2. Align Your Frog With Larger Objectives
It's not enough just to help employees determine their priorities — it's also important to test it against the organization's larger objectives. As Tracy says, "One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all." Employees should be expected to regularly meet with their manager to review quarterly goals and ask questions like: "What are my most important responsibilities?" and "What can only I do well?" With answers to those questions, they can better understand the most critical outputs for their role, enabling them to build a productivity plan to hypercharge their performance.
3. Build an Organized Foundation
Once you've helped them identify what they need to achieve, the next step is to help them develop effective and actionable plans. "Your ability to make good plans before you act is a measure of your overall competence," Tracy writes. "The better the plan you have, the easier it is for you to overcome procrastination, to get started, to eat your frog, and keep going." An organized foundation includes having a larger project plan, step-by-step strategies for execution and a daily to-do list that moves goals closer to completion.
4. Work Positive and Negative Motivations
Staying motivated and productive requires significant investments of time and energy. So positive motivation is critical to cultivate a can-do mindset among employees. For example, if an employee hits a specific work goal, you should encourage them to reward themselves with a break, a walk or the chance to check Facebook after they're finished. Negative motivation can work, too. By establishing clear cut consequences for not completing something, it can help employees find the motivation they might lack otherwise to knuckle down and get the job down. Ultimately, these actions should serve to help clarify priorities, which, according to Tracy, are "those that can have the most serious consequences, positive or negative, on your work or life. Focus on those above all else."
Disorganization and procrastination cost your business profits and opportunities. For finance leaders, "Eat That Frog" shows that teaching your team how to focus and organize to overcome procrastination and boost productivity doesn't just benefit the bottom line and harness your organization's human capital potential — it's also an essential part of delivering a rewarding employee experience where valued team members understand how to make major contributions to your business.
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