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Vision and Voice

Don’t Take the Easy Way Out

There's an old saying about overcoming procrastination: "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that this is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long." And in healthcare, particularly at an organization as complex as UVA Health, we have many frogs that need eating!

The concept of "eating the frog" comes from a great book by Brian Tracy. I like it so much that it was the subject of a book club I hosted for Medical Center leaders this spring. The book's main point is that — even though it's tempting to first run through those things on our to-do lists that are easy to check off — we should instead be trying to tackle the biggest and most challenging tasks we need to do first.

That's something I try to do each day when I come to the office first thing in the morning. And I find it's among the key ways that I'm able to break through the noise of the day — from strings of meetings to unexpected phone calls and other work demands — and feel accomplished by the time I go home.

So how can you organize your day to get those most difficult and important tasks accomplished? Pause on anything that is not a high-value use of your time and take control of your day by scheduling blocks of time for critical task completion. Then, during that period, focus on that one important task until it's done. No multitasking! If the project seems too large and unmanageable, break it down into smaller pieces. Create a master list with all those smaller tasks, and review them each day until you accomplish your goal.

This is much easier said than done, of course, and it takes practice to develop a good habit. I encourage you to talk to your managers and teammates about how you can support one another in making this a part of your daily routine. I guarantee it will make you feel not only more productive but more fulfilled in your work. And that sense of fulfillment is something we want for everyone at UVA Health.

We talk a lot about strategy here. The Bridge Plan and One Future Together are just two key examples of how we define the work needed to create a new vision for our organization with clear goals and objectives for how to achieve that vision. I really appreciate the opportunity to take a leadership role in helping to develop plans like these. I think it's one of my strengths. But what I've learned as a leader is that the execution of that strategy is what's more important — whether that's achieving a ten-year plan for a complex organization like ours or knocking out a tough task on your everyday to-do list at the office. So when next a frog jumps on your spoon, I hope you'll remember Brian Tracy's advice and know you've got what it takes to handle it.

Take care and be well!