Jumpstart the day: Apply the ‘eat the frog’ method

‘Eating the frog’ is a productivity method that focuses on tackling the most challenging task of the day first thing in the morning. By doing so, you can jumpstart your day and feel a sense of accomplishment that can carry you through the rest of your tasks. In this article, we’ll explore the ‘eat the frog’ method in-depth and how it can help you jumpstart your day and boost your productivity.

Woman writing on a white board

The method explained

The basic principles of the 'Eat the Frog' method can be summarized as follows:

1. Prioritize

Start by listing all the tasks you need to accomplish for the day. Identify the most important task that requires the most effort and attention. This task is the "frog" that needs to be eaten first thing in the morning.

2. Plan

Once you have identified the most challenging task, plan how you will tackle it. Break it down into smaller, manageable steps to make it less overwhelming.

3. Schedule

Set a specific time slot to work on the 'frog' task and avoid distractions during that time. It is best to schedule it first thing in the morning when you are fresh and energized.

4. Execute

Start working on the 'frog' task without delay. Stay focused and committed to completing the task. Remember that completing the most important task of the day can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to tackle the remaining tasks on your to-do list.

Origin of the method

The 'eat the frog' method is often attributed to Mark Twain, who is quoted as saying, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." However, there is no evidence that Mark Twain ever said this.

The phrase was more likely coined by self-help author Brian Tracy in his book "Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time." Tracy based the phrase on a quote from French writer Nicolas Chamfort, who said, "Swallow a toad in the morning, and you will encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day." Tracy's interpretation of the quote was that the 'toad' represents the most difficult or unpleasant task of the day, and if you tackle it first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will seem easy by comparison.

Benefits of the technique

The 'eat the frog' method can bring several benefits to employees who apply it in their daily routine, including the points below.

1. Increased productivity

By tackling the most challenging or dreaded task of the day first, you may experience a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue working through the day, leading to higher productivity levels.

2. Reduced procrastination

Often, individuals may procrastinate or avoid a task they find unpleasant, causing stress and anxiety. However, by addressing the task early in the day, the sense of relief can reduce procrastination and increase productivity.

3. Better time management

By prioritizing and completing the most important task first, you can manage your time more effectively and prevent other tasks from taking over the day.

4. Improved focus

Addressing the most difficult task first can increase focus and concentration throughout the day, enabling you to work more efficiently.

5. Reduced stress and anxiety

By addressing the most challenging task first, you may experience a sense of relief, leading to reduced stress and anxiety levels.

Application in the workplace

The 'eat the frog' method can be applied in the workplace in a number of ways:

1. Prioritize tasks

Start your day by making a list of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Prioritize them based on their importance and urgency. Identify the task that you have been dreading the most and tackle it first.

2. Schedule your time

Set aside a specific time of the day to complete your most challenging task. This will help you avoid procrastination and ensure that you stay on track with your work.

3. Break down the task

If your 'frog' is too big to swallow all at once, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will make the task seem less daunting and easier to approach.

4. Eliminate distractions

During your designated 'frog' time, eliminate any distractions that might prevent you from focusing on the task at hand. Turn off your phone, close your email, and find a seat where you can work without interruptions.

5. Celebrate your success

Once you have completed your 'frog' task, take a moment to celebrate your success. Reward yourself with something you enjoy, like a cup of coffee or a quick walk outside. This will help motivate you to tackle the rest of your day's tasks with renewed energy and focus.

Things to take away

  • The 'eat the frog' method can help employees to jumpstart their day and boost their productivity by addressing the most difficult task first and building momentum throughout the day.
  • The basic principles of the method include prioritizing tasks, planning how to tackle the 'frog' task, scheduling a specific time to work on it, and executing it without delay.
  • The benefits of the technique entail increased productivity, reduced procrastination and stress, better time management, and improved focus.
  • This method can be applied in the workplace by prioritizing tasks, scheduling time, breaking down tasks, eliminating distractions, and celebrating success.

About me

Hi, I’m Lilian. I’m currently the head of a design team in a digital agency in Amsterdam and love to write about leadership and share tips based on my experience over the past couple of years.

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