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What it Means to Eat the Frog

Productivity 3 min read

As Mark Twain once said “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.”

The frog is that one thing you have on your to-do list that you have absolutely no motivation to do and that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. Eating the frog means to just do it, otherwise the frog will eat you meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating it the whole day.
Once that one task is done, the rest of the day will be an easier ride and you will get both momentum and a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of your day.

How do I spot the frog?

There are always some tasks we would like to tick off of our to-do list as soon as possible and that if accomplished would help us feel better, but are just so unmotivating to do.
We usually wait until the end of the day to tackle them, often realising we do not have any more time to do them today and pushing them on the to-do list for the day after. This builds pressure and stress.
Indeed, those things end up weighing on our mind, becoming moment after moment heavier and heavier, and preventing us to really accomplish something during the day.

In order to get an overview of your tasks and similarly to the Eisenhower Box technique, you can divide your to-do list in 4 categories:

Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
Things you want to do and actually need to do.
Things you want to do, but actually don’t need to do.
Things you don’t want to do, and actually don’t need to do.

The frog is the Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.

What if I have 2 frogs?

If you have more than one important thing to achieve for the day, simply tackle the biggest first.
Facing the most important and biggest task of the day first thing in the morning means you will tackle it with a clearer mind, probably a quiet office and while your willpower is at its strongest. This is the optimal setting to work on things you don’t want to do.
Remember that the longer you wait to eat the frog, the more tired you’ll be and the more willpower it will require you.

Take action

Starting and taking action is key. Just pick your frog and eat it without thinking too much about it. Discipline yourself on working on your task until it’s completed.
Many people are not productive simply because they confuse activity with efficiency, keeping themselves busy the whole day but not accomplishing a single important task at the end of it.
40 - Eat the frog

Build a habit

To be successful at this technique and be more effective with your to-do list, it is very important to develop the habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning.
The satisfactions of having achieved something, whether it’s a big job or a small task, will trigger your brain to produce Endorphins and Dopamine – neurotransmitters that our brain produces to nudge us into doing stuff – helping you stay focused, productive and motivated to achieve more.

Plan ahead

Remove the stress of choosing your frog early in the morning. Leave your resources to tackle it instead.
Just write down the thing you have to do for the day the evening before, prioritize and pick your frog. The morning after you’ll simply have to act on it.

Remember, if you manage to eat the frog first thing in the morning every day, you’ll end up having a clearer mind and spending more time doing things you actually enjoy doing more.

For more productivity hacks, check out The Ultimate Productivity List – 100 Hacks To Get Things Done.

Written by Stefano M.

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