Do This One Thing Every Day to Get On the Fast Track to Success

Why do we put off what we know we're supposed to do?

By Bernard Marr

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

LinkedIn Influencer, Bernard Marr, published this post originally on LinkedIn.

How many times has this happened to you:

You arrive at work, knowing that you have a big important project/report/phone call/etc. to take care of. You're not looking forward to it, for whatever reason, so you decide to just check your email first. And then, after reading and responding to emails, you decide you'd better clean out and organize your inbox. And while doing that, you find a bunch of interesting links to look at online…

And before you know it, it's time for lunch, and you haven't even looked at that important thing you needed to do.

It's human nature that we often ignore or don't deal with the things we don't like, or that are difficult. This applies to everything from having a difficult conversation with a coworker to filing our taxes or getting a check-up at the dentist.

Related: One Simple Trick To Have Successful Conversations (LinkedIn)

We procrastinate or find other more exciting things to do. In fact, we're really good at avoiding those things we don't want to do. But the secret is that the people who just buckle down and get them done, end up being more successful in the long run.

Why do we put off what we know we're supposed to do?

Psychologists tell us that we procrastinate because it actually feels really good; we're generally avoiding risk and doing things that are more fun or pleasurable. That means the procrastination gives us a little psychological reward when making that uncomfortable phone call just doesn't.

And it turns out that, in general, procrastination isn't a time-management problem, it's a problem of self-regulation — something we in the West tend to have a big problem with. As kids, our lives are so controlled that we are never required to develop self-regulation — mom gets us to lessons on time, work is done in class, authority figures dictate our every moves — and then when we are out in the real world, we have trouble utilizing a skill we never fully developed.

Succeed by eating the frog.

Luckily, you can practice self-regulation, even if it's not one of your best skills.

Mark Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of day."

Author Brian Tracy took this to mean, do the thing you want to do the least, first, and the rest of your day will be easier.

It's a really good idea to deal with the things you hate first thing in the morning. This will make you more productive and will free the rest of the day up – without the dark cloud over your head for the rest of the day, week or month.

Related: Big Data For Small Business - Why It Matters! (LinkedIn)

A great way to make this a habit is to give yourself a reward after completing the onerous task. Maybe you tie your morning coffee break to completing your worst task of the day; you don't get to stop for a cuppa until you're done. It can also help to identify the task the night before, so you don't waste time wondering what you should be doing.

Deal with the difficult things first, and you will not only be more productive, you'll be more successful, because you'll be easily surpassing those people who never eat their frogs or wait until the last possible minute.

Bernard Marr

Author, Keynote Speaker and Consultant in Strategy, Performance Management, Analytics and Big Data

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author, keynote speaker and consultant in strategy, performance management, analytics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and big data.

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