Eat That Frog! Getting More Done In Less Time

If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing that the worst is behind you.” – Mark Twain

First things first, put the forks away – we’re not talking about actually eating real frogs here. While Mark Twain’s metaphor is very colourful, and certainly conjures up a vivid image, he isn’t being literal. Instead, what he means is that if you are dreading doing something, it should be the first thing you do in the day. That way, you don’t have to spend the day dreading it or putting it off. That might go against your inner procrastinator, but it’s one of the ways successful people get to be as successful as they are. And when we talk about time management, there is no better rule than eating a frog for breakfast. 

Why We Procrastinate

But first – why do we procrastinate? While you might be able to come up with a hundred valid reasons to not do something (usually because something else is ‘more important’), there is only one real reason behind all procrastination – we don’t want to do it. And the big, ugly, annoying task we’ve been dreading is usually the most important one on our plate at the time, and the one we’re most likely to procrastinate on. But here’s the thing about procrastination – it’s a habit, and a bad one. Procrastinators are expert self-saboteurs, always putting blocks in their way that hurt their performance in all areas of life. It’s not a matter of being bad at time management or planning, so telling a chronic procrastinator to just buy a weekly planner is like telling someone who’s chronically depressed to just cheer up. It’s something that evolves in you, and it’s a difficult habit to break. But if you want to be truly successful, the break it you must. (By the way, if you want to find out more about the psychology of procrastination, there’s a great study on it here)

What Is Frog Eating?

Eat That Frog is a fantastic little book by Brian Tracey (which you can buy here), and was inspired by that lovely Mark Twain quote above. The idea is really simple – if you have a list of things you need to get done today, pick the thing you’re least looking forward to doing, and do it first thing. If you can do that, the rest of your day will be more productive, and you’re less likely to procrastinate and do other things in order to avoid that one task. It also means the task will actually get done, instead of just being pushed to tomorrow, and then the next day. Frog eating can be applied to any area of your life, from business to personal. So, you might be dreading making your five sales calls that day, finally getting your tax return sorted or even something as simple as doing the washing that’s piled up. Whatever it is you’re dreading – put it at the top of your to-do list and actually get it done. That’s all there is to it.

The Benefits Of Frog Eating

The obvious advantage to the ‘eat that frog’ approach is that it gets the unwelcome task out of the way early. Often the ‘frog’ is that task you’ve been dreading for a while, and is usually the most important thing on your list. You know, the kind where you know what the consequences are to not getting it done, but you still struggle to make yourself do it? So the first benefit of this approach is that you’ll be getting the important stuff done every single day – rather than all of the little things that don’t matter as much.

It also has some pretty great psychological effects. Once it’s done, you’ll feel like a big cloud has been lifted from your shoulders, and you can approach everything else in your day in a much more positive mind-set. This will improve your general mood, and have a massive impact on your productivity. With all the business owners we’ve worked with, the ones who adopted this approach found they were doing more, and were much happier in general at the end of the day. And in terms of benefits for your business – doing that big, ugly thing first means that the important things are actually getting done, and you will likely see an increase in productivity, profitability and time availability. All by eating a frog for breakfast.

At ActionCOACH, we work with business owners who want to see these benefits every day. We love the ‘Eat That Frog’ model, and do it ourselves religiously. So if you’re struggling with time management, and there are things you know you should do – but aren’t, we can help.

Or to put it another way, if reading this article made you think of one particular task and gave you that sinking feeling in your stomach, you need to start eating frogs for breakfast! And if you’re not sure how to do that, or need some help sticking to it, just get in touch with us for some help!




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