Do not eat that frog… immediately


Brian Tracy calls the hardest problem or task of a day a frog. He suggests that we should start every day with eating the biggest, fattest frog meaning solving the hardest problem. This idea sounds reasonable. If we begin a day with completing a very difficult task, every other one will be easier. In addition to that, we will feel a stream of energy and pride coming from what we’ve accomplished. It sounds great, but it is completely false! This approach of starting with the most difficult task, in most cases, would be counterproductive. Let me explain you why.

Dealing with the most difficult task is terrifying for most of us. It is similar to walking way beyond the comfort zone like casting yourself into the abyss without a parachute. What would you do if your work began in this way every day? You would be super excited and thank God for such a challenging job? No. You would perhaps quit sooner than within a week.

How it actually looks

What do you tend to do if you need to accomplish an extremely difficult task in the morning?

A. If you are self-employed or you work from home, you probably:

stay in bed longer than usually
blow out the dust from the exercise bike and work out
go to Facebook and read some very important articles
give all your friends birthday and late-birthday wishes
find a perfect place to go to next summer

B. If you have a full-time office job, you probably:

clean up your desk
organize your papers
respond to a lot of emails
make some crucial corrections in your Power Point presentation
spend more time talking to your colleagues and listening to their problems
The idea behind eating that frog at the beginning of each day was not to waste time on unimportant tasks. But we are only humans and if something scares us, we would find numerous excuses in order not to tackle the hard thing.

So what is the solution?

Before you eat that frog, consume a few tadpoles :)

Sportsmen know that before training or performing they need to warm up. This way, not only do they minimize the risk of injury, but also achieve better results. Muscles are awake and ready to work hard.

Employees and employers should also do a warm-up. Before you start doing a big, complicated task, do several smaller tasks.

This way, you will activate your operation mode. You will send your mind a clear message that now is time for work. If you choose an easy and quick task, you:

Can complete it fast; and
Achieve a small success.
This way, you are convincing yourself not only that you can do something without procrastinating but also that you can finish what you started. It’s a very comforting thought that increases the incentive for further action.

Compare this possibility with a situation where after first 30 minutes of work you achieved 7% of your big, complicated goal. And you are not sure if what you did was valuable. Maybe you will need to start over. In this case, it is easy to question your productivity or even your competence. Instead of programming yourself for doubt and failure, create a habit of achieving mini-successes.

What exactly can you do?

A. If you are self-employed or you work from home, you can:

Make the bed
Do 10 squats or bends
Pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket
Raise the blinds/shutters — invite the sun to your apartment
Send your significant other a nice text message
Turn on your computer and open the document in Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Photoshop which you are working on today
Do a small shopping at the grocer’s (buy fresh bread/roll, fruit for lunch)
Vacuum one room
Pay a bill (rent, electricity, internet or telephone) or Social Security for this month
B. If you have a full-time office job, you can:

Reply to one email that requires a simple answer
Throw away all the unnecessary things in your workplace into the bin
Insert up to 10 documents on your desk to the appropriate binder/drawer
Open the calendar and see what meeting/tasks are waiting for you today
Assign high or low priority to each task for today
Read a blog entry
Read up to three pages of a book
Turn on your computer and open the document in Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Photoshop which you are working on today
Bring to your colleague the paper or file that he or she will need today
Book a room for a meeting
Of course I don’t encourage you to do all of these tasks. A warm-up should take you from 10 to 30 minutes. You can select four 5-minute-tasks or three 10-minute-tasks. It’s up to you. But remember that these tasks should be:

a) Easy to complete; and b) possible to complete quickly — there is no threat that they will take more time that you have in your warm-up.

Do not plan creative tasks like: I will come up with an interesting idea for a new product or I will create a beautiful slide in Power Point.

First of all — you can easily fail in those objectives. Secondly — this sort of task can take much more time than you anticipate.

Select only short and easy tasks.

You are welcome to use the tasks that I provided. Of course you can also create a warm-up list on your own.

A warm-up (eating a few tadpoles) will help you in achieving flow, motivating yourself to intensive and effective work. Start your day with accomplishing several mini-successes but remember to end the warm-up in 30 minutes and get to that nasty frog!

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