There is an old adage that says if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day looks pretty easy. If you have two frogs to eat, pick the biggest, ugliest one first. Your personal “frog” is the project or activity that:
- Yields the most benefit for you in reaching your goals or has the most importance for a company’s development
- Is the item on which you keep procrastinating
- Will normally give you a sense of accomplishment in getting it off your plate
Some tasks may fit all of these descriptions and some may only relate to one. My personal biggest frog is working out. Even though it doesn’t take mental acuity, if I don’t get it done first, chances are slim that it will happen later in the day, although it still lingers in my mind as a difficult, pending activity for the day. Once I have that out of the way, it makes the rest of the day seem easier. Then when I start work, after I do some quick clearing out of small items that have come up, I turn to the project that is going to take the most time and have the most impact (my second frog). From there, it is a downhill slope for the rest of the day.
We often hear about “morning people” vs. “night people.” Our internal clocks certainly have some effect on when we can focus, but reality is that there is only about a two-hour difference in peak mental concentration between the two groups. When you have a difficult project to do, it is normally best to set up an uninterrupted block of time earlier in the day, and use the afternoon for more routine work.
Without a plan to eat that frog first thing, you can wind up saying, “Where did this day go?” You were busy non-stop, but you do not feel that you actually accomplished much, and that significant activity you put off is still looming and creating little nagging feelings of guilt and stress.