Want to Know How to Get Difficult Tasks Done? Eat That Frog
If you have attended one of my workshops you’ve most likely received a dark chocolate frog. I readily give them away as the Eat That Frog strategy is one of my favourite hacks on how to get difficult tasks done and feel on top of my game!
What does Eat That Frog mean?
Eat That Frog is synonymous with accomplishing (eating) an important task (frog) early in the day. The frog is the important task on our to-do list that we are most likely to procrastinate on.
Might seem hard to believe, but eating our frogs is energising! The momentum, sense of satisfaction and self-mastery that accomplishing an important task generates, carries over to completing other tasks and sets up our day for success.
There seems to be some debate as to who first coined the phrase Eat That Frog. Brian Tracy certainly helped to popularise the saying by titling his book about overcoming procrastination, “Eat That Frog!”
Mark Twain is cited as saying:
“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 that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
Why is Eat That Frog a masterful strategy?
By accomplishing the most important task for the day (the one we are most likely to procrastinate on), we’ve removed the stress and fatigue that would have come from not completing the task, as William James says, “There’s nothing so fatiguing as the uncompleted task”.
In addition, the momentum created from accomplishing an important task builds further momentum and is an empowering psychology as we have exercised self-discipline and self-belief.
How to Eat That Frog and maximise your day
So how do we do it? Underpinning the Eat That Frog strategy is clarity and planning. An all-encompassing prioritised to-do list certainly helps, as does identifying the frog the night before, and ensuring you have the necessary resources to complete the task. For example, if my frog is to amend a budget, I want to ensure that I have the Excel file saved and ready to update, along with any associated data.
We also need the time, space and attention to get the task done. Which means we need to be in a workspace that’s relatively free from external distractions, with time to fully concentrate on the task before we head into our meetings for the day and/or have our attention derailed by new message alerts. If completing the task will require more than 90 minutes it might be useful to break the task into smaller components and tackle them over a couple of days.
Quarantining time first thing in the day to accomplish our most important task is critical to the Eat That Frog strategy. Consider how you might stack your meetings together; starting late morning, or even better, in the afternoon.
A recent study has confirmed (what many of us intuitively understand), that when we have meetings spread across the day, we are less likely to engage in relatively extended (though feasible) tasks and end up spending time distracted by email and doing less important things.
Why it is important to Eat That Frog in the morning
Earlier in the day we’re likely to have more energy, a clearer mind and more willpower supporting us to take action and stay focused. The people around us also tend to be more patient in the morning; though it is wise to communicate to our team how long we intend to be offline eating frogs (1–2 hours can be a good time frame to begin).
But what if I’m not a morning person? In that case, the Eat That Frog strategy might be even more effective! Harness your energy at the end of the day to plan, prioritise and take a bite of your frog. The Zeikarnik effect will then work to your favour and see you utilise your mornings too.
Make it habit to Eat That Frog
The compounding effect of completing our most important task each morning is a total game changer. When we feel the satisfaction of accomplishing a task our body releases dopamine, which can see you accomplishing a higher level of productivity for the rest of the day.
So what are you waiting for? Eat that Frog!