Let’s imagine these four scenarios and what they have in common:
- Proofreading a blog post
- Handling nasty customer feedback related to your information product
- Writing your next e-book
- Going through the junk comments on your blog
All of these things are something you have to take care of at some point and they are all either boring or unpleasant.
For instance, if we take point #2 (handling nasty feedback related to your information product), you can probably find dozens of reasons for not taking action on it right away.
In other words, procrastinating is so much easier than taking the bull by its horns and taking care of the matter right away. All of those other tasks that once seemed so tedious are all of a sudden compelling and you like to do them instead.
The longer your postpone taking care of the unpleasant task, the longer the Zeigarnik effect will stay in effect. What this means is that until a task is finished, your mind keeps continuously reminding you about it.
So how do you want to handle it? Right now – and clearing your mind at the same time – or be reminded of it over and over again while wasting your mental energy because of it?
What made you procrastinate?
Taking action on something other than the task you were supposed to do was, of course, easier.
Although if you want to dig deeper into the reasons for avoiding the task, you probably came to the following conclusions as well:
- Proofreading a blog post -> “Waste of time, why should I be doing it and not someone else?”
- Handling nasty feedback related to your information product -> “I’m losing my face completely in front of the customer, I don’t know how to receive negative feedback.”
- Writing your next e-book -> “It takes so much time and I’m bored of writing.”
- Going through the junk comments on your blog -> “Again, this is just a waste of time and I shouldn’t be doing it.”
When you think of these arguments, they seem valid at the time you tell them to yourself. Unfortunately, this kind of self-talk just makes the completion of your task harder, thus making you avoid them and spend more time thinking of them.
What if you took the alternate approach and handled those nasty and unpleasant tasks as soon as possible? How would you feel then?
Benefits of “Eating a Frog”
Mark Twain once said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Of course, the frog he was referring to a real frog, but a nasty thing that you have to take care of.
So why would you implement this approach in your blogging? Well, let me tell some of the benefits that I have experienced when doing so:
- I felt a sense of relief
- My self-confidence grew once the task was done
- I didn’t lose my good night’s sleep
- The unfinished task wasn’t distracting me anymore
- I felt more productive
I don’t know about you, but those things are pretty good benefits when it comes to eating a frog. So if I have you now convinced of this new approach, I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions on how to actually implement it.
Dipping into cold water
What’s the easiest approach to taking a swim in a chilly water? Dip into to the water as quickly as possible. Once it’s done, the water doesn’t feel so cold anymore.
You can take this same approach to your blogging and tackle your unpleasant tasks with these 7 steps:
1. See a task from an alternative angle. What sometimes helps when the boring or unpleasant task is concerned is seeing it from a different angle.
For instance, if it’s handling negative customer feedback, you have to understand the core reason behind the complaint first and then try to figure out how you can turn that into an improvement.
All of a sudden, you are able to see that this is a blessing in disguise. Even if the feedback was given to you in a negative manner, you can still benefit from it.
2. Set a time and date on your calendar. I start the mental preparation for the unpleasant task when I decide the date and time on my calendar when handling it.
It helps me tremendously when I have an exact point in time when the task is going to be taken care of instead of keeping it on my mind endlessly and wasting my mental energy on it.
3. See yourself after the task. I also try to see a picture of myself completing the task. In other words, I imagine how relieved I feel after the task is done.
Remember the times when you had to take care of the nasty things yourself: How did you feel after the task was taken care of? I bet you felt good and that’s what you want to keep in mind when handling your future unpleasant tasks as well.
4. Do it quickly. The faster you take care of the “frog”, the better. It no longer stays on your mind and you can focus fully on other things instead.
That’s why I try to take care of the task first thing in the morning. If that’s not possible, I try to take care of it whenever I have the first possible moment.
5. Ask for mental support from others. Understand the power of your blogging peers. E-mail a buddy of yours and ask for a mental pat on your back. If you have a coach or a mentor, ask him/her about what to do in this situation.
6. Outsource it. There is no one stopping you from outsourcing certain “frogs” from your task list. Let someone else take care of them so that you don’t have to. This works especially well for things like proofreading or handling spam comments.
7. Understand the long term benefits. One final tip related to eating a frog is to understand the long term benefits of doing so.
For instance, if you don’t like writing an e-book, consider what you are missing out on in that situation: New subscribers to your e-mail list, new potential customers to your products, or even new opportunities in the form of business ventures.
Especially if you are building your online business part-time and you want to turn it into a real business, procrastination is not an option.
Want to improve your blogging productivity even further?
That’s why I have written a book, which you can download for free! All I’m asking is that you give your name and e-mail address. In exchange, I will give you instant access to this book, which you can then download to your computer.
If you are willing to spend a little money, you can even buy the print or the Amazon Kindle version of the book. It’s more convenient to read when you are travelling, sitting on a couch, or lying on your bed, rather than dragging your laptop with you.
Just grab the book now and let me know what you think!
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, helps entrepreneurs improve their online business productivity. With 18 co-authors (like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr), he wrote a book about how to build an online business and get stuff done – even when working from 9-5 (available as a free download or through Amazon).