Our CTO and I were talking last week about project management and he told me a story of a well-known psychology expert that was to write a series of chapters for a book, and said she always did the easiest ones first then the more difficult tasks at the end. Now, I don’t have a PhD in Psychology but I do have my GSD (Get Stuff Done). So this approach dumbfounds me, especially coming from someone with a psych background.
First, I need to acknowledge that doing an easy task to overcome inertia is not a bad idea. Do a little thing just to get going, whether it is getting off the couch and walking around the block as the first step towards a 5km race, or calling that layup referral to get a positive feeling that will power you through the hard calls after. A little warmup before anything strenuous is a good idea. But doing everything easy first means that all the harder work is to come, with no relief or pause. And from a project management and time budgeting point of view, which do you think is going to take longer and more emotional energy? Setting all the hard work to the end is great for training sessions but in project execution is a recipe for disaster.
Contrast this with something I was taught early in life by my mom: eat your liver before you have dessert. I HATE liver and would sooner eat a boiled shoe then an animal’s filtration system, probably partially because of the abuse I put mine through. But if you wrap liver in bacon you can choke it down (as is the fact with almost everything), and then you can earn dessert. The lessons I picked up at three years old still apply.
As an Advisor I hated calling the copious Introductions I would receive. I would literally shake and would do anything to avoid picking up the phone if I could. So what did I do to get through this?
First I studied the psychology of phoning and tweaked my language to maximize effectiveness. My language is available in Choices: Creating a Financial Services Career. Then I practiced. Like a madman, an hour plus a day for months. I would pretend to call my fish and I would call my friends and practice trying to get appointments and overcoming their objections. And I just did it. I called those stacks of introductions, no matter how much I hated it.
I also made sure that my schedule had me doing my calls early. After my 7:00 am meeting I got on the phone immediately, before I could think of an excuse to not get on the phone. Just sucked it up and made that first call to get going. Hated that first call as much as I hate The Boston Red Sox.
But I made the first call. And if I didn’t get an appointment I’d make a second call. Then a third. Until the job was done.
Because I hated it.
I loved meeting clients: hearing their stories, solving their problems, building relationships, and most of all getting new Introductions. But I couldn’t do any of that if I didn’t pick up that damn phone to make appointments, even though my referrals were so strong that 90% of the people I talked with wanted to meet me. I still hated the phone.
So I did something I tell the people I mentor to do: eat the frog. Do the gross thing right away before you can gag.
Do what you hate so you can do what you love.
Eat the frog early, because everything will get better from there.
I was out for a run early this morning and stopped to say hi to my 85-year-old neighbor and her yappy little dog Simba. As we were talking a bird pooped on her. Right on her neck and shoulder. Her response? “Guess my day can only get better!”
She gets it.
Do the crappy stuff right away.
Your day will get better, if you eat your frog early. Because everything after that is your just desserts.