Eating the Frog
Eat a live frog first thing every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. -Mark Twain
We all know the feeling. It’s your busy time of year. You’re juggling one too many projects. You stare at the to-do list jotted down on your whiteboard, and you start prioritizing. Day after day, you cross completed projects off your list and add new ones. Every day you look at that list, you try to ignore the big, ugly frog staring back at you. The frog makes you more uncomfortable the longer it sits there, yet taking action doesn’t get any easier. You can’t call an exterminator to get rid of this frog; you need to eat it yourself.
Obviously, we’re not talking about literal frogs here, and Mr. Twain is not giving culinary tips (though I’ve never tried them myself, I hear that frog legs taste like chicken wings). The suggestion here is that we should start the day by taking care of the thing on our to-do list that we are dreading, but we know we have to do. It could be making a phone call, responding to an email, preparing for a presentation, or any other number of things.
But why do we need to start by eating the frog? Can’t we work our way up to it?
I will readily admit that eating the frog first is not an easy thing for me to do, but I have seen firsthand that there are real benefits to doing so. As a task-oriented person, I derive a lot of satisfaction from crossing things off of my to-do list, and I always get extra satisfaction when I’m able to remove a task that I’ve been dreading from my list. Starting the day by tackling one of those tasks can give you an endorphin kick that will improve your mood and start you on the right foot for a productive day. Plus you don’t have to waste any more time worrying about that sword of Damocles hanging over your head.
Eating your frog, whatever it may be, probably won’t be easy at first, but like any other habit it should get easier the more you do it. Until then, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and get ready to take that first bite.
+Tim Peters is a consultant with Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim controller services, and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Tim directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 208.