Surely you have at some point gotten the recommendation to ”eat the biggest frog first” when it comes to how to structure and plan your workday.
Rather than being an invitation to consume a somewhat extraordinary culinary treat, this actually refers to doing the task you feel most reluctant towards completing first thing when you get to the office in the morning.
Perhaps you have even read Brian Tracy’s book “Eat that frog!” or you might have heard the Charles Dickens quote that is said to be the origin of the expression: ”Start each morning by eating a live frog, and nothing worse will happen to you that day.” One of my readers shared this famous saying with me not too long ago. Thank you for that!
Leave the frog aside for now
But, there are also those who argue for the opposite approach — they claim that you should do a handful of short, simple tasks as your first move in the morning, which are completed quickly and which derive us the pleasure of ticking something off our to-do-list. The purpose of doing so is to get that great kick of having gotten a few things done early in the day, which then makes getting started on the more extensive tasks easier.
Alright. Well, these approaches appear to be complete opposites. One tells you to ”Do the worst thing first!”. The other to ”Do the easiest ones first!”.
The question is which advise you aught to adhere to.
At least if you ask me and those of my clients with whom I have discussed the matter. My experience tells me that our choice depends on how we feel from one day to another. Some days we wake up feeling great about ourselves and the world around us. Other days we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and need a few pats on the back from ourselves to even get to work.
Hammer or rubber-mallet?
For this very reason it is good to be familiar with both approaches. In my garage at home I have both a hammer and a rubber-mallet. I cannot determine which is the best of the two since they are used for different purposes. Both tools help me equally, just in slightly different ways.
In the same way these two different approaches helps me get going when I am not having a great day but still have tedious tasks ahead of me, only in two different ways.
If you also sometimes experience difficulties getting started in the morning and have tasks which are waiting your effort and attention, these two strategies could help you (there are of course many other ways to get going, but we will focus on these two for now).
- Find a way that reminds you of the two tools when you need to be reminded the most.
- Draw a frog on a PostIt and a few to-do-task-symbols on another. Post the notes where they catch your eye when sitting in front of your computer. They should be within sight from where you are sitting.
- Find an image of a frog and one which represents a few short and easy tasks. Take a picture of both images next to each other and make this picture your computer desktop background or the background of your smartphone, so that you see it and be reminded often.
- If you need to be reminded every morning, create a recurring reminder in the calendar which alerts you around the time you usually get to work. Let the reminder say something like ”A frog or a few simple ones?”
- Or, think of some other way to remind yourself. I am curious of what ideas you might have, so feel free to e‑mail me and tell me.
- If what you decide to do as a reminder is something you do not have time to do now, right after finishing reading this tip, then add a to-do-task describing what you intend to do onto your to-do-list. This way it will be much easier to get it done instead of it just becoming something of which you think ”that was a good idea, I should try that some time…”.
Get up to speed quickly, regardless of how your day started
If you use the frog-method or the simple-tasks-method when you find it hard to get going in the morning, it will be easier to actually start working and you will soon pick up speed. You will be relieved of the burden laid upon you by postponing tedious tasks, and you will work through your day with greater ease and pleasure. Having a bit of speed and flow when working feels so much better than feeling stuck and slow.
What is your way?
I am sure there are many theories which suggest different ways in which we can determine what to do first. If you do neither the frog nor the shorter tasks first, what do you do instead? Do tell!