Do what matters first

In the famous book “Eat that frog” by Brian Tracy, the author advocates that you should start your morning with the task that you are most likely to procrastinate on because you consider it the most difficult part of your day. The logic is if you had to eat a live frog first thing in the morning then you can go through the rest of your day knowing the worst of it is behind you.

I am a great advocate of this philosophy. I believe in utilising your early morning hours to get your most important tasks done. Even if that’s the only thing you got done that day, you can smile when you do your evening review because you know you got one task that mattered out of the way.

A frog on a leaf
Frogs are best eaten first thing in the morning

Choosing what task to do first thing in the morning can be a problem. One of the worst thing you can do is focus on the wrong tasks, those with a low priority, or even worse, those tasks that shouldn’t be done by you at all. A task can be classified based on 2 criteria:

  1. Importance
  2. Urgency

An important task is one which contributes towards the achievement of your longterm goal. It is often something you should be the one doing. For example, if you are a salesperson with a sales target of 50 units per month, then making 50 sales calls per day or visiting 50 offices per week to advertise your company’s products is an important task.

Important icon
If it’s important, do it

An urgent task, on the other hand is one that needs to be done now regardless of importance. If you are feeling hungry, then eating food is urgent. Similarly, if your boss suddenly fainted during a presentation, getting him or her appropriate healthcare is urgent.

Based on the above, a task can fall into one of four categories on a grid called an Eisenhower matrix:

An eisenhower matrix
Yellow is the sweet spot
  1. Important and urgent – To be done immediately. A delay can have consequences. Medical emergencies fall into this category.
  2. Important and not urgent – Can be delayed but not doing them eventually comes with a penalty. In the sales example above, meeting your sales target of 50 units by the end of the month is an important task but you have a few weeks to get it done.
  3. Not important and urgent – Tasks that other people create for you that are not A-tasks for you. For example, that last minute invite to an online meeting you get while working on a report. These should be delegated as much as possible.
  4. Not important and nor urgent – You have no business doing tasks that fall into this category. They are time wasters.

What are the tasks on your to-do list for the day? What category do they fall in? Should you be working on those tasks? Should you be doing them now? Or are they better done by someone else?

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