02 Mar Eat the Banana, Not The Frog
If you’re anything like me, your to-do list will always be too long. You have a bunch of never-ending projects to complete both at home and at work… the ones you’ll take care of when you’re “less busy.” Some of your projects are seemingly huge, while others are relatively small. In this post, I’m going to share my secret to actually accomplishing the monster projects.
What’s my secret?
Before I tell you about my secret, it’s important to go back to a small section of my post entitled “120-Minute YOUzone” from last week. Mark Twain once said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” I have embraced Twain’s notion to some extent… although I did rename the concept “Eat the banana.” What do I mean by this? Conquer the biggest project that epitomizes your passions so that you’ll actually want to do it… i.e., eat the banana, not the frog. Be someone who likes to wake up for a good reason, for something you feel passionate about, rather than waking only to face the mundane tasks that you’ve been dreading.
How do I know which banana to eat?
I’m probably the pickiest person in the world when it comes to eating produce. When I eat a banana, I prefer it to be yellow, with a little bit of green and absolutely no brown spots. Very few bananas will meet my specific criteria.
Just like there are very few bananas that are to my liking, there are very few projects that I care to spend my discretionary time doing. To know if it’s something that you want to pour your life into, ask yourself the following 3 questions, which will help you keep the end in mind.
- What projects have the potentiality of giving you 10 times return on your time? I call these projects “10Xers”. This is a question of “results.”
- What are you putting off that’s bothering you? Spend some time examining your motivation. Click on my previous post for more detailed information about this question.
- What’s your reason for waking up? Remember to always address your passions. Click on my previous post for more detailed information about this question.
For me, 10Xers are “should-do’s” vs. “must-do’s — or, non-urgent, but important things.
How do you actually get 10Xers done?
Once you ask yourself the 3 questions, you should have a pretty good idea of what your 10Xers are. Here are my 5 steps to help you actually achieve what you desire.
- List Your 10Xers.
My current 10Xers include the book I am writing, my weekly blog posts, internal learning & development courses at the gym, my next keynote speech, final papers that I grade for the leadership class that I teach, and hiring of new sales representatives at the gym. While this list is always changing, it is always going to reflect the observations seen in the 3 questions above, to ensure that the items are 10Xers. Before moving on to the next item, ask yourself, “Is there anything on my list that I can delete?” You want this list to be as lean as possible. For example, I thought about adding another social media platform to my day-to-day routine, but decided that it just wasn’t necessary right now.
- Prioritize Your 10Xers.
Once you have a list that you’re happy with, prioritize your 10Xers. Put them in order from most important to least important. If you are struggling to do this, ask yourself these questions for each 10Xer. Is the 10Xer time sensitive? What 10Xer largely impacts you, your family, your team or your organization? What are your priorities?
- Add Specific Tasks Under Your Top Three 10Xers.
Once you have deemed something a 10Xer, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Unfortunately, I usually underestimate the time needed to accomplish one. To help me manage time, I chart the course for my top three 10Xers by breaking down the tasks that I need to complete under each 10Xer.
- Schedule Your Top Three 10Xers with Tasks.
Now that I’ve broken down the tasks for each 10Xer, I can schedule my time. My rule of thumb is to always schedule double the time that I usually think I would need, to ensure that I complete the project and don’t start my day in disappointment.
- Be Not Afraid.
Just start! Every day, eat the banana… or tackle your top 10Xer. My sweet spot is 55 minutes because I can maintain energy and avoid burnout. Best of all, I leave wanting more and then start the next day with momentum.
What will the results be?
I don’t know for sure what your results will be. I would be willing to bet, however, that you will be happier and healthier. Your life will be full, and you will feel more accomplished.
For me, I’m happier and healthier. I have accidentally created a side speaking and training business, as a result of being focused for 55 minutes per day for 5 straight years, including weekends.
How would you feel if you knocked out a few of your 10Xers in the next couple years?
ACTION: Eat the banana, not the frog. List only your 10Xers that you’re passionate about. Then, prioritize your 10Xers in the order that you want or need to accomplish them. Add specific tasks under your top 10Xer. Finally, eat the banana by scheduling 55-minutes per day, including weekends, to achieve what you desire.
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