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Eat the Frog First

Today we are taking a deeper look at Mark Twain’s productivity advice: “Eat the frog first.” Twain originally wrote:

“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.”

We all run into jobs that are undesirable, totally un-motivating and sometimes downright yucky.

The procrastinator in us would love to put off eating the frog until as late in the day as possible. The problem with that is then the frog sits on your desk staring at you all day, getting slimier, croaking at you, distracting you from your other projects, and reminding you that in the end, you still need to eat the frog and get that job done.

When you learn to eat the frog first, the rest of your day will be much more enjoyable and productive.

So how do you identify the frog task on your to do list? In almost every productivity training, there is a method of dividing your tasks into 4 basic categories:

  • Things you want to do, but don’t necessarily need to do.

  • Things you want to do, and actually need to do.

  • Things you don’t want to do, but don’t necessarily need to do.

  • And things you don’t want to do, and actually need to do.

Frog tasks are always things you don’t want to do, and actually NEED to do.

Here are a few tips for learning how to eat that frog:

First, it helps if you turn eating the frog first into a habit. It takes about 30 days to groove a new habit, so you need to make a commitment to evaluate your tasks every day for 30 days, identify if there is a frog on your list and tackle that job first. Remember, frogs are only tasks that you don’t want to do and actually need to do. Make sure you don’t turn an unimportant task into a frog by mistake.

Second, once you identify a frog task make sure to eat it in the MORNING. The best time to take on an undesirable task is first thing when you have a clear mind, strong willpower and nothing else competing for your attention.

Third, make sure you eat the entire frog. One of the worst mistakes you can make when tackling a frog task is to not see it through to completion. You want to work through that activity until it is done, done, done so that no part of it is still waiting for you.

Is there a topic you'd like me to cover in my Productivity Boost segment on GNAT? We'd love your ideas. Feel free to comment below. Until next time, make it a great week and eat the frog first!

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