Why the frog? Read on, my friends, for the answer.

For years, I’ve been telling you that all you have to do is make your health a priority … that this would magically give you enough time to get in your workouts.  I suppose I was living in some sort of a dream world because as I was preaching this, my life was becoming more and more hectic.  It got to the point where I was missing workouts.  The lack of control in my life got to the point where my workouts became more and more sporadic, then finally non-existent.  Of course, with the lack of workouts, came the poor eating habits.  What’s the use, right?

Well, I had to snap back to reality because thinking like this got me really out of shape -- a couple of times.  For those of you who’ve read my account of getting overweight and unhealthy the first time, this may sound very familiar!  Of course this time is much worse because I am still working as a trainer. 

So now, aside from being an expert on all things fitness related, I’ve also had to become a master of time management. 

So I went back through and re-read all of my books and notes that had anything to do with time management (and for that matter, anything that dealt with managing anything … energy, money, etc), along with any new books I could find.  I waded through all of the information, eliminated anything the seemed like fluff and blended the rest.  Thus, I created my Ultimate Approach to Kicking Butts, Taking Names, and Making Sure I Have Plenty of Time to Get My Workouts In (yeah, I know it’s kind of wordy, but I like it!)

Single-tasking

Multi-tasking has been a buzz word for quite a few years now, but all this really accomplishes is several things about 80% done.  You may be able to get all of your tasks done like this for a time, but after a while it begins to affect the quality of your work.  Stop splitting you focus and energy and get really intense about getting one thing done.  Pick something, get it done, and move on to the next thing.

Eating the Frog

Brian Tracy says that if you have a plate of frogs to eat, you should eat the biggest, ugliest frog first.  This makes the rest of your day easier, and gives you momentum. 

Conversely, if you save the big, ugly frog until the end, it seems to get bigger and uglier as the day goes on. 

The big, ugly frog can either be the thing that you dread the most; or it could be the most important task (and sometimes it’s both).  The quickest way to success is usually to get after the thing that scares you the most.

Beating the Alligators

Steven Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about his time management matrix, where he divides things into 4 quadrants based on their importance and their urgency.  He likens the first two quadrants (Q1 = Important and Urgent and Q2 = Important, but not urgent) to having alligators in your back yard.  You’re out there trying to improve your future (Q2) by digging a trench to irrigate the water out of your back yard so the alligators will go away.  The problem is the alligators are there biting at you right now (Q1), so you have to beat them with the shovel to keep them at bay.  Every moment there isn’t an alligator biting at you, you have to quickly get a few shovels of dirt, and then go back to beating the alligators.  Eventually, the alligators will go away and you won’t have to worry about them.  Working on Q2 helps to minimize the “emergencies” in Q1, but if left unattended, Q2 activities will move into Q1. Discipline yourself to spend as much time as you have available to Q2.  By the way, your health falls into Q2.  If you do a little on it each day, it will improve gradually, but incrementally.  Ignore it, and it will soon become a Q1 item when you have to go through by-pass surgery.

The critical few vs. the trivial many

This concept is the result of Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto, who developed the 80/20 rule.  It exists in many formats, but the important take-away here is that 80% of your results will flow from 20% of the activities you do.  Thus we have the critical few tasks that will create the best results for you.  Identify those "big lever" items and try to spend the majority of your time on them.  The rest of the activities can many times be eliminated or delegated.

We all have 24 hours in a day.  What makes a difference is how you spend those 24 hours.

Next time you find yourself toiling away all of your workout time, family time, or whatever else you find important, stop and ask yourself if you’re truly working on those items that will move you the furthest along.  Many times, you’ll find that you’re doing “busy work” to procrastinate on something that scares you, but would be a better use of your time.  Let these principles be your guide and you’ll find yourself getting more done at work in less time, thus giving you more time to spend on things that really matter to you.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
-Johann Wolfang von Goethe