Swallow the Bullfrog


Clearly I’ve crossed the chasm over to ancient sage as recently a member of the Devon team suggested that I start to share the tips and techniques accumulated over the years. On one level, I can appreciate her observation. Being able to run a high-tech PR firm for almost 20 years means one is either as tough as nails, an über-people pleaser, or as nutty as a fruitcake. The reality is that most days involve balancing all three, as well as being able to wax eloquently on a host of topics extemporaneously, handle the unexpected highs-and-lows that come with working across global business and media communities, and remain incredibly organized.

So, the first part of this series focuses on getting organized. This isn’t a skill where the nature versus nurture argument comes into play: anyone can increase their productivity by learning how to prioritize and organize. That said, being methodical across everything you do is a multi-faceted endeavor. There’s no silver bullet here; you need to cultivate a series of behaviors that will enable you to chip away at the piles of paper on your desk and be able to truly leave the office at the end of a day.

The first tip? Start each morning by swallowing the bullfrog. Swallowing the bullfrog means that regardless of how easy or appealing other projects are, tackle the hardest one first. Cycling through your email for an hour might seem practical but it pales in comparison to writing the 2,000 word article that’s been languishing on your “to do” list. Standing in line at Dunkin Donuts for 30 minutes might seem like an appropriate morning ritual (a big sorry to our New England friends), but skipping the trip and taking that time to return yesterday’s voice mails is far more valuable. Locking yourself behind a closed door and delving into that three hour research project that is now three days overdue will mean that you can move onto easier, more pleasurable projects knowing you’ve satisfied a commitment.

Swallowing the bullfrog extends to other parts of life. Faced with the choice of watching TV, dining with friends, or tending to the now grossly overdue oil change and tire rotation, guess which one needs to come first? We all have our preferences and priorities but by tackling the toughest first means it becomes history. A sense of accomplishment aside, you’ll be alleviating anxiety, management and peer pressure, and potentially unhappy customers. Just do it: figure out what your bullfrog is today and make it go away.

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