Eat the Frog First
Among the many obstacles in life, I believe we’ve all experienced one in particular, procrastination. When we are anointed with a calling, it is a gift that requires our best. We may not reach perfection, but we can certainly excel which requires certain habits, one being prioritizing. All great outcomes are the result of doing what needs to get done. And done first.
Let’s look at our workday. Once we roll out of bed and have our cup of joe, we often look at our to-do list. Itemized on our list are specific projects that will eventually lead us to our purpose. Some seem easy, yet some appear insurmountable. So, how do we know which one to tackle first? In the words of Mark Twain, “Eat the frog first.” This is a metaphor for prioritizing our tasks so that we can progress forward. The frog is the task we least want to do. We could say, get the monkey off our back but eating the frog first means ‘just do it.’ Otherwise the frog eats us which in this case, is another metaphor for procrastinating. What we need to do needs to get done because what we need to do will always be there until it’s done. Any incomplete project that supports our purpose is not going anywhere. Unfinished business has a way of hovering over us like a looming cloud. Or better yet, a leaping frog.
But, how do we determine which one is the frog? Based on the model, the Eishenhower Box Technique, our to-do list is broken into four categories:
- things we don’t want to do but actually need to.
- things we want to do and actually need to do.
- things we want to do but don’t need to.
- things we don’t want to do and don’t need to.
So, which is the frog? It is the thing we don’t want to do but need to.
Let’s say you have to write a thesis and you’re under a deadline. The words don’t come easy. That thesis is your frog. What about your health? You want to get in shape and working out is not your jam. That's your frog. Drafting out a business plan requires research which for some people is dreadfully tedious. Frog. Practicing piano is one of my frogs and because I do want to play so I try and eat it early. However, that doesn’t always work which is one of the many reasons I am not a concert pianist.
Another issue that keeps us from doing what needs to be done is being busy with all kinds of activities. We confuse activity with productivity. We avoid eating the frog by staying busy all day without accomplishing one thing. And that enables procrastination.
Eating the frog first has benefits. First, it will be the worst thing we do all day but once it’s done, gone is the frog. Next is, if what needs to get done gets done first and thus, we have a sense of accomplishment and all other tasks will be a lot easier in comparison. Prioritize or procrastinate? When we prioritize, we are free from the shackles of procrastination. And the rest of the day is ours to live with no leaping frog in sight. So, eat the frog first and keep pressing beyond.