- in Productivity
I recently skimmed a book called Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. The book overall didn't do much for me, but there was one concept that I found quite powerful. That concept is the name of the book, Eat That Frog!
Tracy lifted this idea from a quote from Mark Twain. Here are a couple of versions of the supposed quote from Twain:
"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."
"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."
To implement this concept, you have to identify something you aren't that keen to do, something that matters, and do it. Eat that frog!
Just as examples, this week, I wrote two long memos to former colleagues that I'd been meaning to do but really wasn't relishing, tried yoga for the first time in years, called the IRS to deal with some random paperwork, and changed car insurance providers.
Capture The Frog
So what constitutes a frog? This is up to each and every one of us, but let me tell you the parameters I came up with.
- A frog can't be something that you do every day, like unloading the dishwasher or going to the grocery. We have to do that stuff, and it's just part of life. Nope, a frog has to be something that is more discretionary, that you could blow off for a while if you want, but you really should get done.
- A frog should be something you aren't terribly keen to do. So if you love going to the gym to workout, that's not a frog!
Cook The Frog
You will develop your own cooking style, but here are my tweaks to the recipe.
- I don't insist on eating my frog first thing. I have too many other core priorities that I do every morning. I focus on those core issues first, but then later in the day I make sure I eat at least one frog.
- I tried to implement a policy of eating a frog every day. Frankly, it didn't work. It's too ambitious. I don't think it is realistic to think we can confront something pretty major that we really aren't that keen to do each and every day. For me, what is realistic is to strive to "eat a frog" four days a week. That means I am massively moving the ball forward on items that I slightly dread four days a week.
Brag About Your Frog
Somehow when you frame these chores as frogs that need to be eaten, it makes the whole thing kind of funny and you just do it and get it done. You can even email your friends and family, "Frog eaten for today. Onward!" or whatever.
I'm not necessarily recommending the book Eat That Frog here. There are so many crucial books out there to read that I wouldn't put this one towards the top of the list. But I do appreciate this core concept that Brian Tracy conveyed. I am certain I will use it for the rest of my life.
So what about you? Do you have any major, slightly unappealing frogs that need eating?