Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.
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When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance.
We’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest tasks– leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.
There are only 24 hrs in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little tasks, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.
Sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. In the morning, tackle them one by one in order of importance.
Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:
You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job.
In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray.
Keep assessing and reviewing your progress towards the goal, constantly checking upon yourself and providing self-feedback.
Performing obligations makes you want to do desired activities to compensate, which often leads to failures in self-control and feelings of inadequacy. It’s important to not overwhelm yourself with obligations so you don’t lose control later and incur in inefficiency.