With so many competing demands for our attention at work, and in our personal lives, it can be a real challenge to focus on what matters most and stay productive.
Our to-do lists seem to get longer each day, each week, and each month. We have so much to do, it never really feels like we've completed what we set out to achieve.
This is exactly the problem that Brian Tracy, bestselling author and motivational speaker, addresses head-on in his book, Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Throughout the book, he uses a frog as a metaphor for the toughest and most important challenge you face each day. It's the one challenge we tend to avoid in favor of completing easier, though far less impactful, tasks.
In chapter 4, Tracy describes three questions you need to ask yourself every day if you want to beat procrastination, maximize your productivity, and achieve your goals:
Question 1: What are my highest-value activities?
"The first question is, 'What are my highest-value activities?' Put another way, what are the biggest frogs that you have to eat to make the greatest contribution to your organization? To your family? To your life in general? This is one of the most important questions you can ever ask and answer," writes Tracy.
Question 2: What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?
"This question came from the late Peter Drucker, the management guru. It is one of the most important of all questions for achieving personal effectiveness," writes Tracy.
"What can you and only you do that if done well can make a real difference? This is something that only you can do. If you don't do it, it won't be done by someone else. But if you do do it, and you do it well, it can really make a difference to your life and your career. What is this particular frog for you?"
Question 3: What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
"This is the core question of time management," writes Tracy. "Answering this question correctly is the key to overcoming procrastination and becoming a highly productive person. Every hour of every day, one task represents the most valuable use of your time at that moment. Your job is to ask yourself this question, over and over again, and to always be working on the answer to it, whatever it is."
"The more accurate your answers are to these three questions, the easier it will be for you to set clear priorities, to overcome procrastination, and to get started on that one activity that represents the most valuable use of your time."