Some of you may have come across a great book called “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracey, which is all about effective personal time management. It has a number of excellent and practical tips, but the thing that stands out from it is essentially that you should deal with the ugliest most distracting action first, and then all the other tasks will fall into place.
Funnily enough, however the “frog” is often not the thing which you might think it should be, such as writing a report, preparing the marketing plan, doing the budgets, or other such tasks. In fact it can be anything, and recently I have come up against two such “frogs” both of which were having a significant effect on the business owner.
The first was down to an employee who due to unfortunate circumstances was using the company in a number of ways, including using a company vehicle as their personal mode of transport, and had started cutting hours to accommodate the children’s needs. Understandably, the owner was not happy, but because of the sensibility of the situation, and because he cared for his staff, he kept on avoiding the issue, rather than dealing with it. Now in the overall scheme of events, it didn’t really affect the business much, and the monetary amounts involved were relatively small. However, the effects on the owner grew and grew, causing stress and worry, and also preventing him from working as productively; because issues like this if undealt with, tend to prey on the mind all the time.
When I finally urged him to deal with it, the results were amazing, not only because it allowed the business owner to get what he wanted, and move on, but also because the employee was naturally enough fully aware of the situation, and was hugely relieved once the issue was resolved, and the employee is now working far more productively as well.
The other example is again what might be considered relatively trivial, but while it persists, it is causing stress, simply because the owners know they need to deal with it, but are wary of doing so. Basically this is all about changing the culture in the business, so they can stop people wasting time through having informal meetings all the time. They clearly recognise that these meetings without structure, notes or actions are simply wasting everyone’s time (which they can ill afford) and they want to change this, but worry about the reaction from some of the other senior team members. They have yet to confront the issue, preferring for the time being to continue making excuses for not sorting it out, but they know and I know that once they face up to this “frog” and stop procrastinating, things will improve significantly.