How often do you work towards your life goals? Every day, I hope?
Here’s the follow-up question: When in your day do you pursue said goals? First thing in the morning? At night when everyone else is asleep? Or during your lunch break because that’s the only time you have?
I’m grateful to be able to write first thing in the morning, though it’s not to say I enjoy it most days. Because writing is hard, and more often than not, I’d rather not leave the warmth of comforter during those dark, cold mornings.
But some wise dude once said that you should eat your frog in the morning so that the rest of the day would seem easy in comparison, and so I do.
Is there a merit to the timing though? After all, the only thing that should matter is whether or not you eat your frog, right?
Well, let’s find out.
Eat a frog? How?
Okay, first up, I’m from Malaysia, so we literally do eat frogs here. But today, we’re only talking about it in a figurative sense.
Picture this: you’ve run out of food and your laundry basket is filled to the brim. You don’t have work but you’re way behind on your blogging schedule. You want to improve your coding skills but it’s been a while since you’ve visited the gym.
How would you know what to do in the finite span of your day? And in what order would you do them?
The logical way to approach it is to tackle the first thing you feel like doing. Maybe it’s an easy task, or maybe it’s what you want to do.
Not so fast, buster. First we’ll have to determine how impactful the tasks on your to-do list are. And only you can figure that out.
Because getting better at coding might mean a lot to you, but it could be a bore for me. And working out might be my idea of a top-tier task, but a low-impact one to you.
Your mission then, should you choose to accept it, is to determine which tasks matter more than the rest. Make sure you actually rank them, because you’ll need to pick favourites here.
Don’t worry. Your tasks aren’t your children. You can outwardly declare your preferences without scarring them for life. Go ahead. Do it.
I got it! Now what?
Are you sure you’ve got your most important task down? Like really sure? I ask because we’re often bound by what society deems useful that we often forgo what’s meaningful to us.
Don’t pick the workout or morning pages if they don’t mean anything to you. Maybe sketching is your thing, because your ultimate goal is to polish your artistic skills. Or maybe it’s being able to pay your bills on time, which may mean hounding your clients for payments.
Whatever it is, remember that you’ll realistically only have energy to pursue one task. Everything else has to be secondary. Some people have more energy than others. I’m not some people. I need the focus.
Me, personally, I have writing and working out as my main frogs. Everything else like morning pages, WordPress duties, and chores are will get done if time allows.
If you’re faced with tasks of equal impact, choose to do the suckier tasks first. Why? Because Mark Twain said so.
Now all that’s left to do is to schedule your most important tasks for the first agenda of your day, and watch your productivity soar! (Your mileage may vary.)
Why first thing in the morning?
One could argue that the time you eat your frog doesn’t change the amount of calories consumed, so why the fuss?
The fuss, my dear reader, is inertia and momentum.
Stack enough wins first thing in the morning and you’ll go about the rest of your day feeling as though you’ve already won, that your day is complete, and everything else is just gravy.
Save your frog the later afternoons or evenings, however, and you’ll spend your entire day just dreading the inevitable pain.
But if you know me, you’ll know that I’m a proponent of finding what works for you. So as long as you do what needs to be done, who am I to say what’s better or worse?
How it’s helped me
I’ve rekindled the power of eating my frog after deciding to replace my WordPress duties with actual writing as my first task of the day.
Prior to that, I would still write every day, but at a lesser capacity, with the focus of a guppy. The result? My usual 250-500 words for the entire day. By eating my frog, though? I get 1,000 words down in an hour.
The words seem to flow better too, and I’m not sure if that’s due to the clarity of not checking my phone yet, or my internal editor still groggy from sleep.
Another benefit I’ve noticed from front-loading my frogs is the added focus that comes with being the only person awake in the house. There are no conversations to entertain, nor dogs to feed.
Lastly, any task assigned to the start of the day just gets done. I think that’s the biggest benefit I’ve seen from doing the sucky things first. Try it. See if it’s the same for you. (Your mileage will vary. Seriously. But do it anyway.)
A quick hack
I’m not one for hacks, but here’s a useful technique to find your frog so you don’t end up kissing a bunch of duds. You ready?
It’s this: Ask yourself what’s bothering you the most at any given moment.
You know you better than anyone, and thus have the best answers. By uncovering the answers to that question, you’ll be better equipped to craft your frog menu.
Haven’t filed your taxes that you’ve put off for months now? Feel like you should stop neglecting your body and start walking? Feel bad about reading an awesome post about eating frogs and not leaving a comment?
This is an important question to ask yourself because we all have something that’s bothering us, which is good news because that means there’s always room to improve. And if you don’t have anything bothering you, that’s good news too, because you’re probably living an enviable life. Win-win.
Earn your mindfulness
What’s interesting about tackling your suckiest (but impactful) tasks first thing in the morning is that it allows you be more present in everything else you do for the rest of the day.
If you set your priorities for the day and follow through, you’ll be rewarded with the presence of mind that only comes with having your ducks (or frogs, I guess) in a row.
There’s a reason why we always feel noble when we wake up early or inflate the car’s tyres or make our bed, even though those tasks don’t necessarily mean a lot on their own. It’s because it feels great knowing that we’ve got shit handled.
So, to recap:
- Pick tasks that are important to you
- Front-load them to the morning for higher success
It’s worked for me, so I’m 50% sure it’ll work for you, all the time. (And don’t forget that mileage thing).
Do you already eat your frogs in the morning? Or are you planning to do so? Share your experience and join the conversation! Also, if you haven’t joined the newsletter already, you’re missing out on a ton of exclusive content similar to this one!