Do not eat that frog… immediately

Andrzej Bernardyn — №22 with Crystal Paine

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:

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

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:

  1. Can complete it fast; and
  2. 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:

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

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!

Photo: Flickr / r_vandelft CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Andrzej bernardyn

Andrzej Bernardyn

Experienced trainer whose work was highly appreciated by employees of Capgemini, Volvo and Opera Software. Owner of a training company Time management, public speaking, and communication expert.

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