Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cockroaches, Steak Sauce, and Giant Frogs

When I checked my email account at the office yesterday, I had 21 new email messages. For some people, 21 email messages would be a major relief. For me, 21 messages is about 18 more than I need. If someone sends me an email, I must respond. I was raised that way. Isn’t it disrespectful to ignore someone?

About 18 of the emails weren’t really personal. Half of them were marketing emails letting me know things such as the latest deals on video clips for my sermons to interest rates for church construction loans. Those emails are easy enough to ignore. At worst, I will miss a great bargain. The other half of the emails are email forwards. Can I really ignore these emails? What if the person who sent the email asks me about it later? What if they ask if I could see the face in the clouds? What will I say?

Ok. This blog is actually about time management, but who wants to read a blog about time management? So, let’s say this blog is really about getting more out of life.

How do I get more out of life? Stop killing cockroaches. Tony Morgan’s book, Killing Cockroaches, provides great advice for ending the tyranny of the urgent. Tony describes the urgent tasks that come our way every day that sap our time and energy, but aren’t really worth our time. He likens them to the task of killing cockroaches. Sure, you feel like a hero when you save the office from a cockroach (copier jam, leftover food in fridge fiasco, etc.), but is that really what you want your legacy to be?

Add, steak sauce. Dave Ramsey advises leaders to put steak sauce into our days in his book, EntreLeadership. His favorite steak sauce is A1. A level tasks represents the tasks in our day that are actually important. 1 represents the task that should be done first out of all of the important tasks. If we accomplish the A1 task, our day has substance. Everything else can probably wait.

Eat the biggest frog first. “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.” – Mark Twain. My advice would be don’t stare at the frog too long either.

What can we say if we get quizzed about the all important email forward? “I am sorry I didn’t read the email. I was putting steak sauce on a frog while avoiding cockroaches.” Works like a charm.