Drone Thinking in Construction Contracting

Drone thinking sets you above the crowd.

Drone Thinking as a tool

Before we begin, let’s get something cleared up. Capterra’s Rachel Burger wrote a blog post for The Balance Small Business titled, 6 Ways Drones Are Affecting the Construction Industry. She has some cool insight into how using drones is beneficial to construction contractors. It is worth the few minutes it takes to get her overview. Check it out, you may find a few bits you hadn’t already thought of.

It’s good stuff. Yet, it isn’t what this article is about. This article is about Drone Thinking, not Drone Using.

So, Drone Thinking is all about using your mind to soar above the happenings of the daily routine and getting a “drone’s eye view” of how your commercial construction business is doing. It is a step taking you to equanimity. Because, by definition, equanimity means having “mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.”

It is a matter of having the mindset which allows you to leave the minutia of chaos and confusion on the ground, while you soar overhead and look at the big picture.

Drone Thinking next steps

Instead of taking a step back, take a flight above. Look down on your business from a drone perspective. After completing step one below, you can use the time to deal with the other four components.

  1. Allocate time to think – put it on your calendar, at minimum one hour, once a week.
  2. Remove false assumptions – never mind boxes (or thinking out of them) simply work toward knowing your own false assumptions and how to deal with them.
  3. Know the data – of course, we’re here to help with that!
  4. Identify gaps – typically found in processes and procedures. (We can help with this too.)
  5. Pick specific goals – they might include increased profitability, efficiency, or sustainability.

Here are some questions you may wish to cover:

  • What funding, equipment, personnel, and technology will it take to reach my business goals?
  • What are three to five important initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on my construction business? (Remember, having too many priorities means you don’t really have any.)
  • How can I improve my leadership skills?
  • What can I do to be better at holding others accountable?
  • Am I missing the boat (and if so how) in communicating the vision for my company?
  • What are the best strategies to use in these areas:
    • Marketing
    • Monetization
    • Sales
    • Social media
    • Operations
  • Who should I put in charge of developing tactics concerning each item in the above list of strategic areas?

It takes courage and focus to truly ignore what is going on IN your business, so you can soar above and work ON your business.

Further thoughts to use while you soar:

  • Financials – Are there ways to reduce times in accounts receivable? What can we do to reduce outstanding debt? Are our budgets current and active?
  • Operations – What can we use to improve productivity? How can we eliminate more waste? What can we change to make us more efficient?
  • Marketing – What methods should we use to increase brand awareness? How can we let General Contractors in our area know what we bring to the table? Is there something we can do to niche-down better?

Drone Thinking in the day to day

Taking advantage of your allocated Drone Thinking time is imperative. And, out of that time will come your ability to increase your Drone Thinking daily mindfulness.

Determine what will have the greatest impact on your business. From there, you can communicate better and assign responsibilities (and accountabilities) which push you and your staff toward the goals which improve your business.

The time you take to work on your business is time well spent. Take advantage of all this Drone Thinking strategy has to offer.

Also, pay attention to this bit of advice from one of the Masters.

“Every now and then go away. . . Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735 

Attending Scaling New Heights

Scaling New Heights in accounting to better serve clients in construction

We’re here in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Scaling New Heights convention produced by Woodard. We thought we would let you in on what we’ve been up to while we’re here. Keep in mind, everything we do (including convention attendance) hinges on our mission of helping our clients (small to medium commercial construction contractors) Run With the Big Dogs. And, we must tell you, we believe our experiences here have added to our ability to do so.

Scaling New Heights through attendance

From the Woodard website: “Each year, over one thousand of the world’s leading small business advisors and over 100 of the world’s leading software developers gather to gain knowledge, cross-refer services, develop practice skills…and more!”

From Tonya and Yvonne: Yes! Let’s roll!

We arrived eager to expand our knowledge and expertise, one keynote, one breakout, and one handshake at a time.

We were not disappointed!

In addition to that, we came with a set of objectives. Following our own advice  we had these goals in mind before we got here.

  • Expand our industry knowledge in general ✅
  • Find solutions for two client related problems
  • Look for new or updated app and SaaS vendors ✅
  • Network with peers ✅
  • Position Tonya as an expert* ✅

Learning from our peers, swapping big (and little) ideas, checking out the fun tech, and finding solutions for real life, real time problems our construction contractor clients encounter is exhilarating!

*Tonya was among the 4 people who served on a panel discussing best ways to serve construction contracting clients.

Scaling New Heights for the fun of it!

From joining the Knowify gang at Eva for tapas, to Jennifer Dymond showing us how the study of Improv  can make us better at serving our clients, we’ve been having fun! For Tonya, connecting with returning friends and for both of us making new friends has been the mortar to the building blocks we encounter in the breakout sessions.

Sharing tips, insights, and information one trowel blade at a time, is allowing us to share and compare with top notch accounting and business advisors from all across Canada and the US.

Scaling New Heights for the plums

It is possible we will still find more plums as this day and the next roll out. As of now, we’ve discovered 2 plums which have caught our attention and have already been acted upon in one way or another.

Plum 1. “We need to build out a very good website intake form to be available for potential clients to prior to initial consultation.”

Initial action step: Speak with website designer concerning placement. ✅

Secondary action step: Send info to calendar to begin design process. ✅

Plum 2. Need to take definitive action on the move towards AI in the accounting sector.

Initial action step: Begin brainstorm discussion with notes concerning possibilities. ✅

Secondary action step: Set up firm wide meeting to discuss iterations in business model. ✅

We’re excited to move on to the next sessions, meetings, and encounters as we finish up the week here at Scaling New Heights. And we’re excited about the upcoming possibilities.

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this small peek into the happenings at the Schulte and Schulte firm.

Providing Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. Call us! 866-629-7735 

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy Planning in Your Construction Business

Strategy for Goals Planning

In the first two parts of this series we dealt with Task Priority planning and Goals Priority planning.  This time we’ll look at the Strategy infused in Goals Planning.

“There are simply no shortcuts in the long run.” Frank Sonnenberg

Mr. Sonnenberg has a good way of cutting through the hype. While there are easier ways to get certain tasks done, in the long run it is hard work that leads to the win. It is hard work to own, maintain, and run a commercial construction contracting business. Yet, understanding how to prioritize daily tasks as well as long and short-term goals is one way to lighten the load.

Now, let’s delve into what goes on between dealing with today’s daily tasks and reaching long or short-term goals. How do you prioritize the strategic steps to take in order to reach those goals?

Strategy pencil or chisel?

Before we go further, it is well to look at whether your goals and strategy should be written in pencil or chiseled in stone. There are different circumstances which apply, both from the standpoint of what you hope to achieve and your own temperament.

This article When to Set Rigid Goals, and When to Be Flexible, from Harvard Business Review explains how to approach the issue.  The authors lay out the circumstances and principles quite well.

Strategy in context

The goal is the main “big thing” you want to accomplish. A strategy is the path you take to achieve a goal. Built into your strategy will be objectives. The tactics you use to reach each objective are the tools which make it happen.

Think of it this way. Say your goal is to lose weight.

Goal: Lose 20 pounds in 4 months

Strategy: A mix of diet and exercise.

Objectives:

  • research (which food, which gym)
  • purchase a gym membership
  • buy smaller dinner plates
  • empty cupboards of high-calorie snack foods
  • replace previous foods with diet approved items

Tactics:

  • stick to the new diet
  • exercise at the gym

Gym memberships and smaller plates are objectives framed in your strategy. Gym memberships and owning smaller plates won’t help you lose weight. It is the actual tactic of eating less and exercising that moves you to the goal.

Strategy in action

Once you spot a problem in your construction company systems you can set a goal which addresses it.

Let’s say you have a crew which arrive at the jobsite only to discover they’ve left the yard with some of the necessary tools and a few pieces of important materials left behind.

And, this isn’t the first time.

You’ve spotted the problem – inefficiency.

Goal: Reach X% more employee efficiency on all projects by X month of X year.

Strategy: Discover and implement ways to ensure each vehicle leaving the yard is stocked and well equipped for each job.

Objective: Develop systems and checklists for assuring each vehicle leaves the yard prepared for each job daily.

Tactics:

  • Transparency with employees concerning costs and lost opportunity costs due to inefficiency
  • Incentives for superior performance
  • Easily accessed checklists

Often as you take the steps toward your goal you discover unforeseen problems. You can meet the challenges, even change path more easily if you’ve already outlined the goal, strategy, objectives and tactics.

For example, suppose the excellent digital checklist you’ve devised for your crews frustrates them. You may push the, “it takes time to learn, give it a chance” button with your crews or you may decide paper checklists will work just as well.

Strategy you’re familiar with

You likely already use some of the thinking processes involved in this manner of reaching goals even if you haven’t formalized it. Yet, if you practice using this method in writing you’ll be better able to notice missing pieces. You’ll also be better at follow-through and corrective action.

It is our desire this 3-part series of articles (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.

Because we are a virtual “corporate accounting office” for commercial construction businesses we can assist you no matter in which of the 50 United States your business is located. Call to see how we can lighten your back-office and accounting burden. Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Goal Planning in Your Construction Business

Goal planning. It take thought and planning to be useful.

Goal Planning in Your Construction Business

Goals and how to prioritize them  

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

While there can be a multitude of goals concerning any construction company, I’ve identified 5 which are a good start for prioritizing your construction company goals. And, I’ve listed them in (a sample of) the order of priority.

Goal 1 – How will it end?

The overall big swooping question you must answer is, “How will it end?” What will become of your construction contracting company in the years ahead? How will you, the owner, exit? And, your choices are rather limited. There are 4 basic alternatives:

  • Legacy – pass down to your children or grandchildren
  • Sell – sell your business as a going concern
  • Job over – close the door — liquidate the business and sell the assets

The last option isn’t pretty and one for which no one plans.

  • File for bankruptcy

Furthermore, there are other circumstances you must consider.

How will you afford to retire whether you sell to others or pass the business to your children?

Are you equipping someone in the family or in your employee to step to the helm?

Have you contacted an attorney concerning how and when to step down?

What happens to your family, employees, and clients in the event of your untimely death?

Will you choose to work for another contractor if you decide to go out of business? Speaking of going out of business, this article has a A 10-Step Checklist for Closing a Business that is worth perusing – and might make you decide it will be easier to stay in business. 😵

Once you’ve answered the above questions and determined how you want your business to end, you can choose goals which lead to that destination.

Goal 2 – Wowing your clients

This is where your core company values, standards, and ethics come into play. What goals do you have for yourself, your company, your employees, and your subs which add to the client wow factor?

This is when it becomes essential to measure correctly. And, I’m not talking about measuring twice and cutting once. Essentially what it comes down to is knowing what to measure.

For example, if you set a goal that everyone in your company must take X number of classes each year, you’re likely missing the correct item to measure. The number of classes multiplied by the number of employees only equals how many classes were taken.

The number of ecstatic clients or highly satisfied general contractors should be where your computation ends. The first part of the equation is where you must choose the correct methods for reaching your goals. Some which come to mind are:

  • Clean jobsites
  • Paperwork ahead of schedule
  • No preventable accidents
  • Teamwork among employees, fellow contractors, and clients
  • Accountability for personal as well as company actions
  • Efficiency

It could very well be that taking or offering classes concerning any of the above goals plays into your plan for meeting those goals. Good. Then add them to the equation with a specific goal in mind. There are other strategies you may choose to use and we’ll delve into that in part 3 of this series.

Goal 3 – What’s in it for you?

Why do you really want to own a construction contracting business? Does it give you a sense of personal fulfilment?

  • You like the challenge of putting the pieces together.
  • It allows you to express your creativity.
  • Cash, yes you like the cash involved.
  • You know you have leadership skills and you enjoy putting them to use.
  • Giving other people jobs and opportunities is worth it to you.
  • You genuinely enjoy seeing buildings rise from the ground.
  • Understanding how people will use what you’ve had a hand in building is rewarding.

Whatever it is that makes you glad you’re a construction business owner, you have opportunity to set goals which make you better at doing just that.

How will you determine you’ve been successful? Is success a far-off goal to look forward to or is it something you’re achieving in the here-and-now?

And, here is where we get to bedrock. How will your ownership of a construction contracting business affect your family, your friends, and your community?

It is about the spend. How will you spend your money, influence, and time? Remember, we’re talking about setting priorities. Make sure you have your personal priorities straight. The next step is developing goals to align with those priorities.

Goal 4 – The wellbeing of your employees

A few goals to consider include:

  • Benefits and pay packages
  • Vehicle or vehicle allowance
  • Training and/or cross-training
  • Safety immersion and training

Yet, you already knew that. You’ve likely thought of each of the above. Where it becomes more difficult is when it is harder to get a firm grip on the ROI.

How do you measure the Return on Investment into your employees when what they want can’t be measured by dollars or time spent? We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, let’s reflect on how this looks from your side.

Let’s say your company goals reflect what you’re doing, where you want to go and why. This comes down to your mission and vision. Are your company goals known to your employees? Can they be accessed easily? (That means – are they written down?) Are you sure they understand them?

Now, we can talk about what your employees want beyond the paycheck and the benefits package.

Your employees want to know they’re making a contribution. In part, that means they want to know you value them for more than their set of skills.

They want to experience the connection that comes from doing good work with good people. Yep, they want to have fun. They want the camaraderie that comes from working with others. And, like you, they want to be able to point at a finished project and say, “I built that!” Employees want to experience the pleasure that comes with the feeling that their work matters.

Your goals for employee wellbeing will reflect your understanding of what your employees need.

Goal 5 – Getting the word out

The goals you set concerning marketing will, in some ways, reflect the goals you set in the previous sections. Do you want to stay in business? Will your present clients be inclined to refer business your way? Will your support for your family or employees be maintained or (perhaps) increased due to marketing efforts?

When determining your goals concerning marketing it is well to keep in mind that there will be a “spend” connected. As my not-at-all-famous friend, Karen once remarked, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Your marketing goals must include the spend-factor. Because your time, your money, or both will be spent. Your goals may include the use of paid advertising, various social media channels, hard copy materials, (business cards, flyers, pamphlets) cold calling, asking for referrals, you know – that sort of thing.

Yet, there is more to keep in mind. Your marketing efforts start with elated clients and happy employees.

Your goals are connected

It is noteworthy that your construction company goals have relationships with one another. It is like the lyrics in the old Frank Sinatra song.

Love and marriage, love and marriage

They go together like a horse and carriage

This I tell you, brother

You can’t have one without the other

Taking time to sort through the various goals you have for your commercial construction business won’t be easy. Yet, it will be worth it.

This article concerning the Golden Rules of Goal Setting does a good job explaining the basics.

 

This has been the second in a three-part series concerning planning for priorities.  You can see the first part here. The third part deals with the strategies connected with goals and priorities.

Do you have a goal of getting all your financial dealings under control? We’re good at that. You can get in touch here. Or give us a call Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Performance-Based Bonus Programs That Don’t Stink – Part 1

bonus programs and incentives that don't stink

bonus programs and incentives that don't stink

Some bonus programs stink

Bonus programs based on the wrong parameters or instituted poorly can be really yucky for everyone. Your team loses, you lose, and you throw your hands up in despair thinking bonus programs are a waste of time and (more importantly) a waste of money.

Yet, if you get it right, the win-win effect takes place bringing everyone (including your clients) into a much better place. Instituting bonus incentives in your construction contracting or service business is worth the time and effort.

A bad example

One of the best companies I ever worked for made a honking mistake when they first instituted a bonus program which offered a rather stunning reward. I mean, who do you know who wouldn’t want to have an all-expense paid, eight-day vacation with the person of his or her choice in a foreign land while the paycheck continued to roll in?

In case you’re wondering if I’m calling sour grapes simply because I never achieved the bonus, think again. I did achieve the bonus. My hubby and I were delighted to be a part of the group which arrived in Thailand ready for an adventure. Yet, we were only able to go because the company realized after the first disastrous year they had made a parameter mistake when instituting the bonus.

There isn’t reason to go into all the details, but you’ll understand what went wrong when I mention that the goal which was set the first year could only be reached by a limited number of employees. It had to do with location. The folks who could reach the particular goal set for that year all lived in metropolitan areas. Those of us who had no hope for reaching the goal lived in rural areas. And yes, you guessed right. When we first learned what the goals were, we looked at each other, smiled, and mentioned that we weren’t possibly going to reach that goal. So, nothing in our behavior changed.

The point is, when setting goals for your team, be sure they are attainable. That doesn’t mean make it easy, it just means the goal should be one everyone in your employ can see hope of achieving. Which brings me to my next point.

Achievement rather than performance

Ah, words. Words can mess with our minds. This report from the University of Michigan will give you more insight into the validity of choosing words which are more in line with what you want to convey.  So, there is every reason to choose the correct word when determining what it really is that you want to accomplish. The word performance tends to remind us of a stage. When a person is asked to perform there is the concept of getting it right for the sake of the audience (in this case the boss.) But, when a person is asked to achieve the idea inherent in the word is that of making ones-self better. You can see how that simple change in words will set the right tone for introducing bonuses to your team. It will also aid you in determining parameters that are highly advantageous for all involved.

Achievement-based bonus program

Perhaps stating what an achievement-based program is NOT will be helpful. It is not:

  • A freewill gift (for instance a Christmas or Chanukah present)
  • Delivered randomly without a plan
  • A tenure bonus (although this is close)
  • An employee referral program (yet it will add juice to your attempts to gain employable referrals)
  • A signing bonus

Now, let’s talk about what a well-executed achievement-based bonus program IS. While you can make a case for “a job well done is its own reward,” you must admit raising the bar with extra incentives is a useful tool in your management toolbelt. When you reward accomplishment, you help people achieve more (sometimes more than they thought themselves capable) and you:

  • Increase teamwork and camaraderie
  • Decrease unsafe practices
  • Escalate productivity
  • Improve customer service
  • See your business improve

Results are what count

After all, incentives are all about achieving specific results rather than simply doing a good job.

In part two of this 3-part post we’ll talk about how to determine which bonus initiatives will be most advantageous for your construction contracting company. There will be information on how to implement the program. And there’ll be the part about “which incentives to give.”

 Contact us here or call 866-629-7735.

 

Part 2 – Let Middle Managers Manage

 

 

This is part 2 of a 2-part discussion about growing your business through growing your middle managers. If you missed part 1 which concerns what you as an owner should be doing in your construction contracting business you can go here.

Have you ever gotten a chuckle out of the scene when a three-year-old announces, “I do it myself,” over a task which he may or may not be able to accomplish? What we usually do is allow the child time and space to prove he can or prove he can’t. Either way, the child has learned something. You may have to use the same approach when training the folks on your middle management team. Let them try. They may succeed, they may fail. Either way they (and you) have learned something.

That being said, it is imperative to remember, “I tie my own shoes,” is different from “I boil my own water,” and you’ll, of course, need to be discerning when handing off assignments which are age (or skill-level) appropriate.

Grow middle managers for your construction contracting or service business

You may have any number of different titles for your middle managers. Some which come to mind are:

  • superintendent
  • operations manager
  • project coordinator
  • foreman
  • project director
  • safety manager

Whatever they are called, the people who make up your team of middle managers are important to the lifeblood of your company.

3 important components used to build your middle management team

Communicate with them

Listen to them. Listen to them. Listen to them. Yes, you’ll have essential information to pass on to them, yet it is important to engage them in collaborative conversations. Listen to their concerns, hear their feedback, discern their needs. Think about where they’re coming from, what their perspective is and be prepared to ask questions to define the conversation. When you’re aiding them in understanding they’re a middle manager who is important to the function and goals of the company, they’re more likely to align themselves with the mission and purpose of your construction contracting or service business.

Train them

Develop their leadership skills. It is important to model good leadership skills in your interactions with middle managers. You should also consider providing scheduled training in various areas. The training may take place in a class room, online, at a boot camp, at a conference, or “on the job,” yet is best not left to chance. This article written by Brad Humphrey from For Construction Pros offers valuable information concerning training superintendents. The information found there is good across the board for your various middle managers.

Sharpen them

Maintain a set of questions to use when conversing with them. While the questions shouldn’t be considered ice-breakers, there is a component of “getting to know your people” that will come with asking good questions. Try questions like this:

  • What have you learned this week?
  • When was the last time your routine changed?
  • What are your bottlenecks?
  • Where is the most friction on this job?
  • What isn’t working?
  • How would you fix it?
  • What decisions can I help you make?
  • How is everything going?
  • Which task did you most recently delegate and to whom?
  • What great thing happened to you professionally or personally this week?

Provide strategic input to your middle managers and then allow them the freedom to implement those strategies. Micromanaging them is a waste of your time as well as theirs. Instead, make sure they know and understand their tasks and responsibilities. Finally, give them the power to make decisions instead of bothering you.

Your call to action

The first step you can take is to make a list of everything you can delegate to your current middle managers. Then using the three steps outlined above, begin growing your middle managers in ways that will in turn aid you in growing your construction contracting or service business. Delegate the proper tasks to the right people and be ready to lead them going forward.

Football + Accounting + Construction Contractor

So . . . your kid is on his high school football team. And your team is in The Game! They’re playing well! And so is the other team. It is exciting! They’re in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Your team has been given the ball. If they make this touch down your team wins! The entire crowd (all those parents, siblings, and friends  wearing the school colors) is standing, waving, shouting. You’re becoming hoarse with the yelling, you’re tense in every fiber of your being, right along with everyone around you.

Your team’s coach is ready for this. He has been working with and preparing the team just for this fabulous victory – so he looks around, thinks quickly, points at just the “right” players . . . and sends in the defensive squad.

What???

What is going on here? Everyone knows it is time to get the offense out there on the field. It is time for them to strut their stuff. It is time to make that touchdown and take home the win!

For way too long, too many Construction Contractors and Service Business Owners have been playing with only half a team, their defensive team, when it comes to their accounting. The game is on, it is getting tense, it is time to make that game winning touchdown – and it is time to put your offense on the field.

Enter team offense!

We at Schulte and Schulte work to take our clients to an accounting stance which is proactive rather than the reactive. We work hard to make sure our clients take home the win.

You get our team to work with you to help you reach your goals, scale your construction contracting business, and be as profitable as possible. The front-line tech that allows us to automate across the board and to help you get better, more up to date, more accurate data, more quickly means you have an offensive team ready for the challenge.

Are you ready to win?

We’re ready to work with you to see it happen! Learn more about what we do, how we do it, and how you can get in on it.  480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

What Your Potential Clients See When They Look at Your Construction Contracting or Service Business

A construction contracting company or construction service business is a reflection of its owner; it is also a signifier for where the owner is going.

The ideal construction contracting company reflects the owner’s skills and competence built on a foundation of hard work and integrity.

With thanks to Jeff Foxworthy, I submit the following:

You might own an ideal construction business;

If you’re Competent in your trade and in running your business.

If you’re known in your social and work circles as being Credible.

If you’re Experienced in both your trade as well as business ownership.

If you make it a point to stay informed and monitor changes within your industry. If you’re a Life-Long Learner.

If you’re Reliable over and over and over.

If you’re Detail-Oriented, Observant, Meticulous, let’s face it – a Persnickety person.

If you’re just plain easy to be around. If you are (in other words) Personable.

Working with you to keep you at the top of your game

If you’re a part of the Schulte and Schulte Client Family you already know we do much more than “the typical bookkeeper;” we work with you to help you reach your goals, scale your business, and be as profitable as possible.

If you’re not yet part of the circle and you want to find out what the Schulte and Schulte Client Family already knows, give us a call. We’ll get you on the schedule to learn more about what we do, how we do it, and how you can get in on it.  480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

3 Takes on “Eating the Frog” for Construction Contractors

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Eat the frog,” meaning get the most awful task of your day done first thing in the morning and everything else will be much easier to accomplish after that point. You may have seen something like this, “Mark Twain said, ‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.’” Well, it seems while there may indeed be good reason to take up your own personal ugly frog and begin munching first thing in the morning, there may also be other alternatives to consider.

Plus, apparently the oft misquoted Mark Twain didn’t mention frog eating for either productivity reasons or for gastronomic reasons.

As a matter of fact, Twain constructed a comical adage in which he made fun of one of Benjamin Franklin’s lines and said instead, “Never put off till to-morrow what you can do day after to-morrow just as well.” Unfortunately, it appears many of us prefer to take Mr. Twain’s “put it off” advice over Mr. Franklin’s “do it today” advice.

First Take: Get it done early

Brian Tracy wrote a book titled, Eat That Frog! wherein he espouses the concept of taking up your ugly frog daily and chomping away at it until that froggy task is completed. Your frog is something that needs to get done, but you have absolutely zero motivation to do it. Further, and ironically it is something that needs to get done because it is a step you need to take to help move you toward your long-term goals.

Some reasons that are given by many who encourage early morning frog eating are:

  • You have the most will power early in the morning
  • It is a small win
  • Your brain prefers to do easy tasks, this encourages your brain to behave
  • It forces you to prioritize what is of value
  • You can face the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you

Consider using this First Take

if you do indeed have a problem with procrastination or need to hone your prioritization skills.

Second Take: Meet your frogs where they live

You may be among those who find mornings are their least productive times. Your frog should be eaten when your energy level is at its highest for the day. And, if you’re like many other Arizona construction contractors, you are likely to find frogs jumping out from behind the saguaros at the least expected time. Don’t turn and run, grab that ugly green hopper and get busy munching.

The trick here is building your power of discernment. Important questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is this my frog or is it a handsome young prince for someone else?
  2. Is this truly a frog or is it a pollywog and will it wait until tomorrow?
  3. Is this frog more important than the other frog I see coming my way?

Consider using this Second Take

if you’re not a “morning person” or if you truly enjoy most of your work, finding you have very few frogs in your work-a-day week.

Third Take: Wait to mess with stress causing frogs until you’re under pressure to perform

Those who advocate early morning frog eating are themselves turning green when they see me suggesting something as “crazy” as “put it off.” There is a whole school of thought that says, procrastination will ruin you. And that school is valid. They go so far as to say that those who claim to work better under pressure are only fooling themselves. And, there is validity to that train of thought also. Many procrastinators have waited until the last minute, only to find they’re doomed.

Yet, there are those who truly do work better under pressure. Maybe you’re one of them. Although I hasten to add, there are very few who do indeed fit this category. So, be cautious before you jump on this lily pad.

This article, written by Amy Morin for Forbes, speaks to the issue of top performing athletes using stress to enhance their performance. Yep – using stress to make themselves do a better job.

Robert Biswas-Diener wrote an article titled, “The 11th Hour: How Working Under Pressure Can Be a Strength,” in which he discusses the difference between procrastination and incubation.

And this Ted Talk by Kelly McGonigal concerning stress and how to use it is quite enlightening.

Consider using this Third Take

if you truly do work better under stress, if you’re an incubator, not a procrastinator.

Oh, what the heck? I may as well throw in the Fourth Take: Cook up the frog – legs

If all this talk of eating frogs has made you hungry for frog legs, I found a restaurant in Tucson which has them on their menu. Look for “des cuisses de grenouille.”

Or, if you just want to know more about the delicacy, you might find this article about how to eat frog legs interesting.

Consider using this Fourth Take

if you already love and enjoy frog legs or if you’re at least curious about the little beasties.

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This is another article in the series concerning organizing your construction contracting office, shop, vehicle, and day. You can check out the other articles right here.