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Career Coach: Frogs for Breakfast

Tardiness has its costs – here are four helpful tips that are worth your time to embrace.

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.”-- Lee Iacocca, automobile executive

I was one of those people who used to do everything at the last minute. When I was in college, I pulled all-nighters studying or finishing term papers. I was often late – time management was not my forte. Tardiness had its costs. I missed out on traveling around Paris with a friend because I was late for our meeting, and I was also fired from a film editing job for getting to work late.

If one of your goals for 2023 is to be on time and/or manage your time better, here are four helpful tips that will be worth your time.

Track your productivity. Learn when you are most productive and effective.

To make the most of your time, you have to know when you are most productive. Note your motivation levels at different points of the day. What did you achieve before noon? After lunch before 3? Between 3 and 6? How effective were you? What might have influenced your productivity? Track this for a week and you’ll see trends that reveal when you are at your least and most productive. Plan your work to coincide with your times of highest output to avoid energy slumps.

This technique can also be a useful exercise to do with your team if you have one.

Tackle tasks that need maximum focus during your most efficient and creative time. Leave less important tasks for those periods during the day when your focus or productivity are at their lowest.

Improve time management and focus by using a calendar which will help cut distraction and reduce procrastination. Use only one calendar to schedule everything. Plan your time.

If you are a freelancer, it is vital to track how long it is really taking you to complete a job. Count all time spent on a project, including client conversations, travel, changes, and administrative tasks. Knowing how much time a project takes will help you in bidding future projects as well as indicate where you can save time or delegate tasks. 

Make plans at the end of the day for the coming day. To help your brain focus, write down three important things you want to complete the next morning. This helps your brain relax. Writing down tasks saves time in the morning and helps you hit the ground running. Productivity improves by 25 percent when you work from a list because you save time when you don’t have to decide what to do.

Eat the biggest frog first. Mark Twain once 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.” Tackle the most difficult tasks first.

The same principle applies to tasks of varying importance. Decide which tasks are most important and tackle those first. Does it have a looming deadline, or will it have a major impact on your project, or offer immediate benefits? Your most important tasks are also big frogs, and they should be addressed when you are at peak efficiency. Completing your most important tasks first will give you a boost of achievement and accomplishment, motivation, and energy.

As J.K. Rowling writes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, “Time will not slow down when something unpleasant lies ahead.” So, take the time to figure out what’s most important to you this year and get to work on making it happen.


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson was production manager on The Simpsons and manager of art at Virgin Interactive. She coaches individuals and consults with companies in creative industries.  She also recruits artists and others for visual effects, animation, and games. She can be reached at Pamela thanks all of her recruiting and career coaching clients for the opportunity to work with them, as well as AWN, for providing this forum to share with the animation and VFX community. Thanks for taking the time to read this column.