Prioritize your workday to accomplish more. When starting your day, you may want to earn a quick and easy checkmark or two showing you’ve accomplished something early in your day. Research shows that most productive and successful entrepreneurs focus on completing the day’s most important task first.
One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
In other words, Conquer your dragon first, by tackling the hardest and most important items on your list before you do anything else.
Does Research Support This?
Does this theory hold up in real life? Does it make sense to complete the most important and hardest tasks first?
In 2017, Harvard Business School released a working paper called “Task Selection and Workload: A Focus on Completing Easy Tasks Hurts Long-Term Performance.”
The study was conducted in a metropolitan hospital to research productivity. They assembled their data from the emergency department for twenty-four months in fiscal years 2006-2007 involving over 90,000 distinct patient encounters.
The purpose of the study was to compare how starting with easier tasks versus harder tasks might affect an individual’s productivity.
The study concluded that completing easier tasks creates a short-term sense of satisfaction and may negatively impact long-term productivity.
The paper states:
“By selecting the easier task (exploitation) an individual gets work done quicker – and likely feels good doing it. However, by choosing the harder task (exploration) one creates an opportunity to learn. Although always selecting the harder task may be suboptimal, if one continually chooses the exploitation path then longer-term performance suffers.”
In other words, a short-term victory makes a person feel productive and have a sense of satisfaction when they accomplish something.
However, they’re limiting their potential because they are not pushing themselves to learn and overcome the more challenging tasks.
The study also found that physicians who consistently chose to complete more manageable tasks first did not push themselves to learn and overcome the more challenging tasks. And as a result, they limited their potential and were less profitable to the hospital.
Create a Plan for Action
Your schedule needs to be designed by you. Only you know what is difficult for you or requires more focus. Complete those tasks first thing in the morning, when you are fresh and at your strongest. Your complex tasks may not take long to complete, although they usually take more effort and concentration.
As the day goes on, your ability to focus diminishes. Your willpower may not hold up, and if you’re like me, you’ll avoid the work and put it off until the next day, and then maybe even the day after.
By putting your most demanding tasks first, you can finish the day up with more straightforward tasks. Then the feeling of productivity from completing easy tasks at the end of your day will help propel you into the next day when you’re ready to conquer your dragons once again.
Productivity is Within Your Reach
Productivity is well within your grasp, and it is entirely within your control to have those good feelings of success and productivity.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed four actionable strategies that you can use to increase your productivity and your success.
Strategy #1. Develop a system that works for you. Make it sustainable and adjust it as needed to incorporate new ideas, technology, and plans to achieve the best results.
Strategy #2. Wake up early in the morning, and start your day while the rest of the world sleeps.
Strategy #3. Eliminate distractions that pull you away from your work instead of enhancing it.
Strategy #4. Tackle your most difficult tasks first. Afterward, cruise through the rest of your day with more manageable tasks that you can complete with less effort.
Your new and improved work style will help you reach that prosperous, happy, and fulfilled life that many entrepreneurs seek.
By the end of the day, you can put your work aside and spend your time on the relationships in your life that are most meaningful. You can rest knowing that you put your best foot forward, gave your best effort, and accomplished productive work.
I’d love to help improve your productivity. Click the button below to schedule a call today!