Chances are, you probably have a few frogs you need to eat today (or need stop procrastinating). No, I’m not referring to the actual amphibians (though I’m willing to try the supposed delicacy of frog legs) but rather the metaphorical ones that Mark Twain famously referred to when he said, “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.”
What are the frogs exactly, you ask? Simply put, the frogs are the things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
Now, if you are a woman who tends to put off the hard tasks for later in the day (read: until tomorrow), you aren’t alone. I’m very often in your camp, so solidarity, Sister . A quick Google search for phrases like “productivity hacks,” “overcoming procrastination,” or even “eat that frog” will bring up countless hits. After all, it’s human nature to procrastinate on tasks we deem to be mundane or complicated in exchange for ones that are more tolerable.
The primary problem for those of us who tend to fall into the “I’ll eat the frog later” camp is when this becomes our modus operandi, thus preventing us from ever actually completing the things we need to do (or taking forever-and-a-day to do so). Perhaps worse, the project percolates around in our minds, activates stress, and impacts our present moments. We find it challenging to fully enjoy the people and activities right in front of us because, there it is again—that uncompleted thing we need to do—looming around in our headspace, absorbing our precious energy like a parasite.
Now that we’ve established what the frogs are and might be questioning if we really want to continue putting them off until tomorrow, what next? If you want to rethink the way you are (or aren’t) eating your frog, here are four tips to consider:
1. Harness your magic hour.
When it comes to eating your frog, tapping into your optimal efficiency time is crucial. According to productivity experts (and to Twain’s words), mornings are the magic hours. For some of you, the morning represents a fresh slate, a clear mind, and endless opportunities. For others of you, it’s at the end of the day when the house is dark and quiet that you can seamlessly knock those projects out. Finding your prime time requires a little experimentation, but once you discover that chunk of time when you’re mentally and physically at your most energetic, protect those golden hours like your life depends on it.
Then, tackle your most important and demanding tasks during that time.
We find it challenging to fully enjoy the people and activities right in front of us because, there it is again—that uncompleted thing we need to do—looming around in our headspace.
2. Embrace tiny habits.
I’ve read it takes anywhere from 21 to 120 days to create a new habit, depending on the person and the behavior one is trying to change. An effective way to establish new habits is by breaking them up into bite-sized (i.e. tiny) pieces. Practically, this could look any number of ways when it comes to eating your personal frog:
Say your goal is to save 20% of your paycheck, but when the time comes to transfer those funds at the end of the month, you realize you’ve overspent. A tiny habit would be transferring 1% of your paycheck the moment you’re paid and then increasing it to 2% the next pay period and so on.
A work project that is taking longer than predicted due to distractions in your environment. Tiny habits would be tackling the project during your magic hours, putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode and silencing your notifications, or taking a 10-minute break every 45 minutes of non-stop work.
Your goal is to exercise 30 minutes each day, but time and time again, your day ends without you breaking a sweat. A tiny habit could be setting the timer on your phone for five minutes and doing jumping jacks or having a dance party to your favorite song, and gradually increasing your time.
You get the idea. The more you embrace tiny habits, the more movement forward you’ll witness, which builds more confidence—and who doesn’t want more of that?
3. Pack your language with power.
I love the saying “change your words, change your world,” because words have the power to change and shape our entire existence. When it comes to eating frogs, thinking and speaking words filled with grit, grace, compassion, and a can-do attitude propels you much further along than words of the opposite nature.
I get it if you find talking out loud to yourself or speaking positively about a project feels inauthentic, but just try it for a few days, and you might feel differently. Even the small shifts in language have a big impact. For instance, changing “I have to ” to “I get to ” gives it a whole new meaning—changing the former one of obligation and duty to one of opportunity and new possibilities.
Simply put, our words impact our attitudes, and who doesn’t need a positive attitude when doing things we don’t want to do?
4. Allow your future to motivate you.
You know those visions, desires, wants, and dreams you have for your life? Maybe they’ve laid dormant for a while, but now is the time to bring them to the forefront of your mind. When the to-do list is piled high, taking a moment to zoom out and focus on the macro view can be an enlightening and creative way to keep yourself motivated to tackle your frogs.
For example, aspects of my future vision include moving back to Hawaii, writing a memoir, owning a profitable coaching business where I partner with women on their well-being journeys, and being surrounded by loved ones. But there are frogs to tackle today if I want to get there one day: putting money into a savings account instead of spending it; writing the first 30 minutes of my day even if I don’t feel like it; carving out time for my studies and continually learning; modeling for my daughters how to love and care for their little bodies, and so on.
The point is our steps of today impact our tomorrow.
As you flex your curiosity muscles and experiment with trying new tactics, remember that our different personalities, environments, circumstances, sleep patterns, stress levels, among many other variables, all carry weight when it comes to why we choose to put things off and how much we’re able to accomplish each day. Each of our journeys look different, and there’s no shame in that. Along the way, celebrate yourself and the strides you’re making—the little ones and all—as you eat your frog!
Looking for more inspiration? Don’t miss this video!
Ignite Your Confidence by Doing | Our Grit and Grace Life (Rachel Hagstrom)