As human beings, we have plenty of things to do each day.
Some of those things are far less savory than others. Some are
huge and daunting, while others are quick, easy, or fun. But
what about those annoying, important, and daunting things?
No one wants to do something that does not make them feel
happier or good.
That is where the “eat the frog” tactic comes into play!
Eat the the frog was inspired by a famous Mark Twain quote, “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.” As you probably guessed, this method has absolutely nothing to do with eating frogs (or any animals) and all to accomplish the things our psychological and neural
emotional center wants to avoid. You can thank the emotional center of our brain for that. (Thanks, amygdala!)
Eat the frog is a tool used by people who struggle with procrastination. Contrary to popular belief, procrastination is not a showcase of laziness but a psychological avoidance of
something unpleasant. A psychologist studying procrastination has found evidence that connects our brains’ emotional center to procrastination.
We avoid doing a task like writing a paper, raking the leaves,
doing the laundry, or work-related reports because they do not
bring us joy. Our brains fear these tasks because they know that they will not bring a spike of dopamine, the reward and happiness hormone. We avoid the tasks to avoid the unpleasant
emotions of stress, boredom, or fear of being incompetent.
So how can you beat your brain at its own game? Eat the frog!
The best way to eat a frog? Like Mark Twain said, first thing in the morning! In the morning during your morning routine or once you arrive at your workspace, identify one big task that is both important and something you do not want to do.
Then, do it immediately.
While it seems silly, it is effective! During the day we are called in all different directions. Our bosses need this, our kids need that, your partner has a question about such-and-such, and your mind is running at a million miles per hour.
In the morning, none of those things have had the chance to happen! If the first thing you do is the thing you would avoid all day, you clear up the stress and frustration of dealing with that task once the business of the day picks up.
Eat the frog works because it helps to encourage “deep-work”
which is a term used to describe distraction-free work on
mentally demanding tasks that use all your attention and skills
at once. Eat the frog also works with your agenda, making the
item or task you choose as a priority. If you chose to eat the frog
before engaging with emails or messages from others asking
you for your input; you have 100% control of your agenda and
Eating the frog first thing in the morning is a great way to set
you up for success. We often overestimate how much we can
get done in a day, which is why we feel unproductive and unmotivated by our never-ending to-do lists. By achieving something big and important first, you feel strong and productive! Your mindset becomes more confident and
productive as the day continues.
Plus, eating the frog gets those unpleasant tasks out of the way, which reduces stress, fear, and expectation for the rest of the day, which means you will likely feel better throughout the day! Feeling better and more confident can make you more productive, so give it a shot!
Eat the frog requires you to focus on one task, meaning you focus on less. While focusing on less may seem unproductive, it has long-term productivity benefits! It means that your work is more precise and focused and helps become a powerful motivator as the day continues.
Additionally, the morning hours are often our most productive!
Why waste them? In these morning hours, our brains are newly
refreshed, and our mindset is a positive one. Later in the day our bodies and minds can become worn down, plus our mindset can become more cynical and negative. Take advantage of that positive mindset and fresh brain, just eat the frog!
Lastly, eating the frog is simple. It does not require a billion
steps, actions, and choices to work. All it needs is one big,
important task that you can get done. It works not only for to-do lists and work assignments, but it can work for anything! Let’s say you need to clean your room. Start with the thing you do not want to do, maybe laundry or the dishes. Once that is done, you can take care of the next frog.
Eat the frog is simple and universal enough to be applied to almost all circumstances or tasks. It is a tactic you can use anywhere, anytime.
Here are some tips for eating your frog. Pick something you can
accomplish fully in 1 to 4 hours. Make a goal to finish your frog
before lunch so that the rest of the day is clear for other tasks. If
your frog is huge, break it into pieces that can be taken in
smaller steps. Each step you finish will feel like a win and boost
Try not to plan your frog ahead of time. Let your frog show up
each morning unexpectedly and then eat it. Do not schedule
your frogs out for the week. Just let it occur naturally each
morning. You can, however, set yourself up the night before if
you need to; just avoid letting your procrastination get in the
Procrastination is very common, and you are not alone in feeling stuck and unproductive. As long as you want to break out of that pattern and eat some frogs, you will be able to do this!
Remember, it all starts with your mindset!