When we are ready to tea out our hair, sometimes we need to return to the basics, to the ABCs. One of my all-time favorite books is Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! 21 Way to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. I swear I reread this book at least once a year, and I have mention it several times on this blog. One of the tactics Tracy teaches is the ABCDE approach.
Lists are Not Enough
Lists are great, and if you read yesterday’s post, you know I’m a fan. But lists alone are not good enough. Why? Because most of us are spineless, lazy and will choose the path of least resistance. We can get caught up being “busy” and lose out on being “fruitful.” We should strive to continually be eating our frogs (the ugliest jobs that we dread). Frogs, like elephants, are easier to eat if broken down (and covered in ketchup :D).
Without revealing too much of Tracy’s magic (buy the book!), here’s the ABCDE in a nutshell. Prioritize. What is the one thing you can do today that will have the MOST impact on your big goals?
A items are items you need to do or face serious consequences. Writing your 500 words, paying the cable bill before it’s cut off, firing a troublesome employee/contractor.
Yes, we need to sometimes fire people, even as authors. We sometimes have to fire agents, cover designers, formatters, web designers, etc. Just goes with the territory.
B tasks are ones we really need to do, but not while there are As still left to be tended.
C tasks are something we’d like to do, but there are no serious consequences if we don’t get to it.
Stop by friends’ blogs, read and leave comments.
D tasks can and should be delegated.
E can be eliminated.
Tracy takes the ABCDE method further and gives deeper ways of employing it, so again, buy the book. It’s short, an easy read, and it will help you immensely. Whenever I feel my life spinning out of control, I know it is time to brush off my copy, reread and get back to eating frogs with ABCDE Alphabet Soup.
The World Doesn’t Reward Perfectionists; It Rewards Finishers
Always remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Perfectionism is a major hindrance in author blogging. Too many of us think that every post needs to be perfect, filled with words of gold that make angels weep. Save that stuff for the paid content. Blogs are free. This isn’t an excuse to be sloppy, but it is permission to be realistic.
The As on the list? Save the nit-picking for those boys. Cs Ds or even Es? We’re wasting valuable time. It’s like polishing the pipes under the sink. Sally forth, there are books to write.
Perfectionism is a lie. It gets us comparing ourselves with others when that isn’t being realistic. I get new bloggers all the time who feel so inferior when they see how I blog, but I’ve been blogging FIVE years. Trust me, in the beginning? Was NOT pretty. Go check my archives and you’ll see.
So back to work! It writes the words or it gets the hose! IT WRITES THE WORDS OR IT GETS THE HOSE! *pets fluffy white dog*
Okay, you can comment and sign up for WANACon, but then back to writing!
I LOVE hearing from you!
***And a reminder! Jay Donovan is teaching a class on Internet Security to keep you SAFE and your information PROTECTED. Also, please check out WANACon, the affordable conference with top talent, and you can attend in your jammies!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of February I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
#1 by creativityorcrazy on February 8, 2013 - 7:41 am
Thanks for the ABC’s of prioritizing. Good tips. This is something I need to reevaluate as my life is a bit overloaded.
#2 by Steve Terry on February 8, 2013 - 7:44 am
Boy Kristen – That’s a lot to post first thing Friday morning. Your list must be checked off already! I am just beginning to feel the coffee flow and brain activity.
#3 by Veronica Sicoe on February 8, 2013 - 7:45 am
“The World Doesn’t Reward Perfectionists; It Rewards Finishers”
AMEN to that! *claps slowly*
#4 by Chihuahua Zero on February 8, 2013 - 7:47 am
The phrase “sally forth” reminds me of The Sims 2, where your Sims can die from doing “Rally Forth”, which is basically exhausting themselves from to motivate their employees. Too much turns them into a ghost with a megaphone.
Basically, remember that you need to eat!
(Yeah, it’s random, but eating is important.)
#5 by Teri Foreman Brown on February 8, 2013 - 8:38 am
Off to buy Brian’s book because I am sitting here with a master list, a weekly list and working on today’s list. My goal for the year was to live less anxiety ridden, but my method of achieving that is to live by lists instead. I’m definitely more productive, but is that easy my anxiety? Not sure.
#6 by Dorcas Graham on February 8, 2013 - 8:42 am
Thanks for sharing. I must get that book.
#7 by Marcy Kennedy on February 8, 2013 - 8:45 am
I love Eat the Frog. I also re-read it once a year or so to remind myself of the principles, and I find that the time immediately following is always more productive than the time before because it helps me bring my priorities back on track.
#8 by hcfbutton on February 8, 2013 - 9:29 am
“We can get caught up being “busy” and lose out on being “fruitful.””
Thanks so much for that line Kristen, I need to remember it, along with a few other slogans that I’ve seen.
“It’s now or now.”
#9 by tua1992 on February 8, 2013 - 10:15 am
Reblogged this on 1992 and commented:
For a noob-blogger, ie, Me, this is just the push, the dosage I needed. After the first of my blogs which turned out not quite like I had imagined all those days when I thought only about writing. I was so demoralised. I decided to nip the blogger-bug in the bud. After, reading everything above and especially “Perfectionism is a lie”, I am up for another try at my blog next week just on a different foot this time! Yes, you are fantastic!
#10 by Jeannine Bergers Everett on February 8, 2013 - 11:01 am
It’s ironic – I learned some great lessons in prioritizing, productivity, and optimization in the business world, and completely toss them out the window. As a writer working at home, it’s easy to let responsibilities blend. The flexibility is part advantage, part disadvantage. It’s too easy to let “A” writing tasks slide aside for “C” household tasks. Thanks for the reminder about maintaining a sense of discipline.
#11 by georgefloreswrite on February 8, 2013 - 11:13 am
“Because most of us are spineless, lazy and will choose the path of least resistance.”
How can you know me so well without ever having met me? 🙂
Off I go to eat frogs…
#12 by SweetSong on February 8, 2013 - 11:26 am
I think I might have to read that book. Although I did just start “Save The Cat.” Thanks for the recommendation!
#13 by Melissa Kotler Schwartz on February 8, 2013 - 11:46 am
Kristen, thanks for the book recommendation and the information on the WANACOn conference.
They both sound fantastic! I appreciate your wisdom and advice.
#14 by Tamara LeBlanc on February 8, 2013 - 11:58 am
I’m a pretty big procrastinator. I was much worse, once upon a time, but i’ve gotten better at finishing things. I’d still, however, like to learn how to better silence the little voice in my head that says, “Put your feet up, relax, there’ll be time to do that thing you need to do tomorrow.”
I’ll have to pick up Brian Tracy’s book.
I love the paragraph you wrote in this post about perfectionists and finishers! So good!!
Have a fantastic weekend, Kristen 🙂
#15 by Natalie Aguirre on February 8, 2013 - 12:11 pm
That’s great advice. I’m already putting into practice your tips from yesterday. And I got more done today. Thanks.
I do agree that commenting on friends’ blogs is not not A or B. The problem is that too many people are giving it up completely or almost completely and it’s really hurting their blog traffic as well as their friend’s blogs. I have over 3000 followers (2000 in the 2 years I joined Casey as a blog partner at Literary Rambles) and our comments and page views went way up. I’ve noticed since the Fall that the comments are down slightly and the page views are down more. It’s not the content. It’s that people are cutting back on blogging and reading blogs. I know because people are saying that. I think it’s sad because they lose what they worked to establish-a blog platform. Any suggestions on how to handle this?
#16 by annerallen on February 8, 2013 - 12:28 pm
Very helpful. I’m one of those people who is always busy, but not always “fruitful.” I’m scared to even stop long enough to make those lists, much less prioritize them. I guess it’s time to slow down and figure out what’s really important.
#17 by Elizabeth Anne Mitchell on February 8, 2013 - 1:27 pm
My husband overheard a co-worker say “You know what Elizabeth always says–the perfect is the enemy of the good.” My favorite phrase at the day job!
#18 by C.S. Severe on February 8, 2013 - 1:59 pm
This ABCDE methods sounds pretty helpful. I’m always looking for new ways to be more productive, especially on the internet. Thanks Kristen!
#19 by Rhenna Morgan on February 8, 2013 - 2:38 pm
Here’s a question: does anyone else suffer from not categorizing, “Do something you enjoy that feeds your soul” up in the A bucket.
#20 by Susan J on February 8, 2013 - 3:35 pm
I needed that one. Thanks for ‘permission’ to put out blogs that are less than perfect gems. I don’t want sloppy, but realized recently that I’d spent my entire MLK holiday crafting the perfect blog related to Dr King’s legacy, only to post it and realize the rest of the world was distracted by some inconsequential thing called an inauguration that day. Who knew? I’d stopped blogging while writing the first draft of the WIP because I couldn’t spare all that kind of time. Striking a balance is good. Thanks for the post. Looking forward to WANACon,
#21 by leejtyler on February 8, 2013 - 3:47 pm
As I am dealing with the capital A in bold stuff 🙂 right now, I haven’t been able to look at your blog in a few weeks. But this is exactly the post that I wrote at the end of January. Breaking things down and timing the other stuff that gets in the way of our bigger goals. I will link to your blog on that as there is still a lot of feedback on it and there will be for sometime. But thank you for mentioning perfectionism. I am a big perfectionist (I am ashamed to admit) and your reminder that it is the ‘enemy of the good’ has lit a spark under my writing. Thank you so much!
#22 by sharonholly on February 8, 2013 - 3:50 pm
I haven’t been blogging because I fear my posts won’t be good enough. Well, that and the many other important things on my To Do List. Like, re-watch Buffy, check out someone else’s blog, scrub those pipes under the sink clean…
Evil, evil procrastination.
#23 by Daniel Escurel Occeno on February 8, 2013 - 5:47 pm
Fried frog legs did taste like fried chicken. I have had the pleasure, but not elephants – boiled or fried or steamed or raw. I agree that it is more important to write than harp on being perfect. After all there is a devil, but God did not create the devil; man did – to get more donations on Sundays, probably. The Catholic Church has good investments and it is strictly volunteer donations; I have been told.
I know a very good friend named Veda Boyd Jones. She is from Joplin, Missouri. She is a writer for children. One of her credits is an educational picture book for children of George W. Bush.
She taught me how to write mysteries, shorts or novels, with bumble gum; I just remebered because I am plotting in my mind a murder mystery after the month of romance Februrary. Publishers are into themes.
But Veda does suggest to get in a habit of being a perfectionist in writing ENGLISH GRAMMAR, even when I communicate VIA E-mail. Your creativity is yours, but automatically write in perfect English. It might be the reason that she has written thousands (might be an exaggeration) of shorts for Highlights for Children, and I only managed one 100-word craft with plenty of rejection letters.
#24 by Jess Witkins on February 9, 2013 - 12:21 am
Ok, I HAVE to get better at this ABCDE rule. I’ve gotten way out of habit. Here’s to getting back on track this weekend!
#25 by neenslewy on February 9, 2013 - 12:46 am
I’ve heard of something similar to this method before, I need to focus more on A and B this year, managing it so far – just another 10 1/2 months to keep it up for!
#26 by Grass Oil by Molly Field on February 9, 2013 - 12:21 pm
Hey Kristen, nice post and I’m buying that book.
I know I am incredibly late the the party (the dip is runny and the candles are burnt out and the music is awful) but I have a nice fruitcake… Do you know of a one-stop-shop (I feel like I’ve read it and you’re written it — likely in “Are You There Blog?”): on the utility of all the SocMed stuff and how to best deploy and employ it? I know it’s changing constantly, but I’m having a hard time figuring out the point of some of it; i.e., Twitter: it brings me 1 or 2 views per post… Pointless? I hashtag, etc., but I’m a dork (and not in the good way). Thank you so much; I adore you and I shared this with my fiction friends yesterday. -Molly
#27 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 11, 2013 - 8:37 am
Thanks, Molly. I am coming out with a new book soon, and hopefully this will hit on all cylinders (Isn’t that always the goal?, LOL). Thanks for the compliment and as far as how to use FB or Twitter, PLEASE check out the classes at WANA International. I hired only the best and they teach WANA methods. The classes are affordable and the instructors do a lot of hand-holding to guide you through the platforms.
#28 by Grass Oil by Molly Field on February 11, 2013 - 9:14 am
Thanks, Kristen, I appreciate you getting back to me. I enlisted on WANA, I have been neglectful, fearing it might evolve into another look at me! shouting arena… I say all this at risk of sounding asinine, because I’ve not been on WANA in a while. What I really need to do is more chaff culling to arrive at a place of less noise and more direction. I can only withstand all the cat, Big Bang Theory, and Feel Good About Yourself All The Time memes which are so rampant on FB (as a guest post of yours highlighted recently) so much. FB has become an ADHD paradise. I’ll be back soon and I’ll definitely look into the classes. Everything you influence is quality. (Maybe that will rub off onto me too…)
#29 by dmdobbins98 on February 9, 2013 - 12:49 pm
I just started blogging again after a long break. I wish I hadn’t taken the break, but I’m starting back where I am. Thanks for the reminder just to keep going and not try to be perfect.
#30 by Mr. Valentine on February 10, 2013 - 1:13 am
I meant to leave a comment before, when I read parts 1 and 2, but I procrastinated. Sigh.
Thanks for making me feel I Am Not Alone.
#31 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 11, 2013 - 8:34 am
Happens to the best of us, LOL. Thanks for the comment :D.
#32 by Nina on February 10, 2013 - 1:55 pm
Grateful for this book suggestion, Kristen! I NEED it!
#33 by kimterry on February 10, 2013 - 5:57 pm
Great blog, Kristen! As usual, you appear to write directly to me. By the way, I’m looking forward to WANACon.
#34 by kimterry on February 10, 2013 - 6:00 pm
P.S. This advice reminds me of the four quadrants Covey discusses in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.