Set Yourself Up For Success By Eating Your Frog In The Morning

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:

  1. Pick tasks that are important to you
  2. Prioritise
  3. Front-load them to the morning for higher success
  4. ???
  5. Profit

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!

94 thoughts on “Set Yourself Up For Success By Eating Your Frog In The Morning

    • Yeah, I find frogs to be ephemeral for the most part. That’s why it’s prudent to have a daily review in the morning of what needs to be done. I say this but I don’t really do it too religiously either, lol. I just look within and see what the biggest thing that’s bothering me is, then I try to solve that.

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  1. “Okay, first up, I’m from Malaysia, so we literally do eat frogs here.” Couldn’t help but laugh at this one(in a good way), I had no idea! As a mom with ADHD my “frog” gets eaten in bits and pieces throughout the day which definitely is a challenge. I love the idea of asking yourself which task has the greatest impact on your day ! Thanks for this one, keep showing up !

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    • Lol yup, I’ve actually eaten frog myself, though it’s not an everyday thing, for sure. Tastes like chicken too!

      And ‘bits and pieces’ is the mode I often fall back on, because it is pretty hard to look at a vague task and just complete it in its entirety.

      Thanks so much for sharing, and keep on keeping on too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really have a need to implement this in my life..just yesterday, I have postponed my important tasks until it was too late, and the stress it has caused to do 3 hours work in 1 hour .. uffffffff 😓

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  3. I try to live the wisdom -Manage your energy and not your time. For me that is drilled down further to mental energy. I have loads of mental energy in the mornings. Add some coffee and I get the heavy lifting done early. To me that means writing my fiction. Evenings, like now after work when I’m mentally and physically weary I do less challenging things, like read blog posts. Thanks!

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    • That’s such a great way to schedule your time. I’ve found the same to be the case, in that I shouldn’t leave my fiction for the end of the day, because I’d be so frazzled by then. Those are moments best saved for administrative or routine tasks. Thanks so much for sharing your process, Jerry!

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    • Oh yes. Nothing beats finishing your tasks for the day so that you can enjoy the moment. Heck, even recreation is more fun when you’re done handling business. Thanks for stopping by, Anna!

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  4. This is such a brilliantly written post, and it hits on all the things I’ve been meaning to get around to doing. My day job recently switched and it’s moved me from a night owl to more of an early bird, and one of the things I’ve come to learn is that all the people who say morning productivity makes everything better – they’re right. Some things I put off to do later and then having missed them I fall out of a habit near instantly and it’s so hard to pick it up again. Just have to eat the frog!

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    • The inertia problem is real. We’re creatures of momentum, I feel, and it’s imperative that we get the ball rolling at the start of the day.

      Of course, it’s easier said than done, because nobody wants to eat their frogs. If possible a steak is always a better option. But we gotta do what we gotta do, eh?

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is really good. I’m always trying day by day. Living a frig-eating life , the amount of work I really put into this has really improved and taken my discipline to another level.

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  6. A very refreshing blog Stuart with a bit of humor: I mean who would eat a frog as a dinner meal?😂😂

    I get it its a figure of speech and I know what you mean by that: in terms of goals yes✔🚀

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  7. Great tips! Since I am way more productive and motivated in the mornings, “eating my frogs” right after I wake up was actually not that hard because I am way more likely to do them without losing my focus. And it’s true, after that, I feel like my day started out right and I don’t worry so much about things that I *should* be doing!

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    • I do believe that there are some of us who suck in the mornings, as I’ve been a noon person almost my entire life.

      However, I don’t know if it’s the innate feeling that comes with eating your frogs early in the morning, but I definitely feel the difference.

      Thanks so much for sharing your process, and let’s continue to actively take on our days!

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  8. Great inspiration! I like to mix it up and keep it fresh. Sometimes I want to eat the frog so it doesn’t hang over my head and make use of that boost from the achievement of eating the frog, but other times I like a nice easy warm up task or 2 to get me started and then I’m unstoppable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s cool that you have your own freestyle method. More people should read this and realise that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Thanks so much for your input and for YOUR inspiration, Christina!

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  9. And here I was thinking I was going to hear about how eating frogs will solve my heart defects. But this is good, too. I really need to get back to my “writing before I go to work” schedule, rather than checking the news. Because I always get my drive to write things when I’m at my job and far from writing utensils.

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    • Isn’t it weird how we only want to write when we can’t? I can get all the free time I want in my day and I’ll take it for granted. Then I only get my lunch hour to write on other days, and I get all my writing done then. Maybe you’re on to something there. Thanks as always for stopping by, JB!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. When I read the title, I thought it was another funny title that “broke the rules” and the content would have nothing to do with it. I guess I was half right. This is good advice for me during the summer. But once I get back into my teaching schedule in the next couple of weeks, I would probably need to eat the frog in a different way…😂

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  11. funnily enough, I actually started doing this the last couple of weeks. I’ve started getting myself going in the morning to give myself about 10-15 minutes before I have to get to work to do some things I usually have to put off until later and then don’t want to do. I’ve found my energy and focus have improved greatly by getting them done upfront before the work day starts.

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    • Those 10–15 minutes do add up, don’t they? And they do bolster your day with a sense of accomplishment, which in turn snowballs into other great things. Thanks for sharing your perspective with me as well as the others, Meagan!

      Liked by 1 person

    • So am I! I mean, I’m not super productive per se, but I’m just freshest in the mornings when my mind hasn’t been bogged down by the day’s events yet. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

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  12. There are times I can eat the frog in the morning. But there are times the frog has to be eaten later on in the day as there is another frog that needs to be dealth with in the morning. I am so hit and miss with writing in the morning. At the moment I am a miss. But, this the perfect post to inspire me again. Thank you.

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    • I never used to like writing in the morning, but lately I’ve found a great deal of inspiration during that hour.

      Also, I’ve found that I write non-fiction better in the mornings, compared to fiction. Just a weird personal observation.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Cindy!

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  13. This is so true! I’ve found that when I tackle more important tasks first thing in the morning, my entire day flows better; I somehow have more energy, and I have a continuing sense of accomplishment that just makes everything seem more pleasant. When I put off the important tasks, I feel crummy all day! (So you’d think I would stick with accomplishing things first thing in the morning, but of course I don’t, haha.) I really needed to hear this today because I’ve been noticing how putting off some important, self-care sorts of things are affecting me mentally and physically. It’s been a busy summer, but I need to slow down and rearrange my priorities. Thanks for this friendly reminder!

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    • Ha, that feeling of dread the longer you procrastinate really does wear on you, don’t you think? And it makes me more prone to making further bad choices too.

      Like, the longer I take to get started exercising, the higher chances I’ll binge on YouTube because I might as well. The snowball effect works both ways.

      And yeah, there are ups and downs for sure. We’re human after all. Thanks for being honest here, and I hope you find your way to reprioritisations!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. First off, I love the superscript parenthetical thoughts. I may just have to steal that.
    Second, every year I avoid the frog of prepping the taxes for sending in to the accountant. (That’s right – not DOING the taxes, just prepping them for the mail. What a crybaby I am.) But when I finally get around to eating that frog, I always say, “That wasn’t so bad.” And then I go on to repeat the pattern the following year.
    Finally, I don’t rely on my mom to tell me I’m her favorite child (because she won’t.) Instead, I tell HER that I’m her favorite child. ;)

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    • Lol, I think the same thing too! Like for things like washing the bathroom. I put that off so long until I can’t stand it, then I clean and think ‘Eh, I don’t know why I delayed that for so long. I could do another deep clean soon before it gets dirty.’

      Then I end up procrastinating again, lol. So I totally relate.

      Ah, I rather like that final thought. Perhaps I should be more proactive and tell my readers that I’m their favourite blogger. Thanks for that idea! :P

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Stuart,

    This is a good one because cultivating mindfulness by eating the frog carries immense benefits. I train my mind daily; doing so on waking sets a strong tone for the day. We need to eat the frog to gain creative momentum for the day, as bloggers, freelancers and entrepreneurs. All the icons in any niche or industry know; this gig is 100% mindset because how you choose to think, feel and act is based on your mindset. Eat the frog, guys!

    Ryan

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    • Definitely! It sucks to eat your frog in the morning for sure, especially if you’re not a morning person, but oftentimes, the best improvements come from the suck. Like my favourite personality Cam Hanes says, nothing substantial was ever achieved from your couch. Anyway, thanks for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Haha…at first I thought you had gone full nature-lover! A frog in the title will give that impression for sure! But anyway this is such an important topic. I’ll admit that even now I still don’t really know how to prioritise well. This world we live in has so many distractions that it’s mind-slammingly hard to decide. Especially when I’m such an indecisive bloke! Haizzz…the irony is I too wake up early but somehow I just prefer lying in bed til I can’t no more. Maybe I should try and write some morning pgs? Hmmm…anyway thanks as always for always openly sharing your writing life hacks Stu. Appreciate!

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    • Ha! Tell me about it (distractions)! I’ve always been a lazy bum, even pre-internet, but these days it seems like my procrastination is on overdrive. All it takes is just one finger tap to Instagram and I’ll lose half an hour out of nowhere.

      Oh yeah, definitely give morning pages a go. There are so many hidden thoughts you may uncover which could surprise you.

      Thanks as always for stopping by, Kelvin!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s no secret that we must figure out what works best for us. I’ve got a pretty regimented schedule for a retired guy, but it’s the good kind of busy. In other words, my days are full of things that are pleasurable. I like to exercise pretty early in the morning. (gym four days, walking two days, and Sundays off). I feel energized and sharp after exercise, so that’s when I like to write. I used to write when I felt like it, but now I’m much more disciplined and usually write something most days. It’s not always my work in progress, but I usually do since I’m in a critique group that meets once a week for four hours. It’s one of the most valuable parts of my week. I’m also volunteering twice a week, reading to seniors, and bringing a friend to her PT appointments. Oh yeah, I’m married and enjoy spending time with my wife, too.🤣 I better not throw that in like it’s unimportant because it is. I also read every night before bed. Part of that is for pleasure, but I’m also reading to learn how to be a better writer. I pay much more attention to the craft. I help around the house, but that’s usually when I want a break from writing.

    What do I give up most days? 1. Televison 2. Limit my blogging when I’ve got too much going on.

    When we travel, I tell myself that those are days/weeks that I won’t blog. Overall, I’m pretty content with my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that a lovely comment, Pete! You DO have a packed schedule indeed, and yes, in a good way.

      I can foresee myself doing the same thing in retirement, because first of all, it’s a blessing to find a workout schedule that gives more than it takes out of you. Then there’s writing, which is a given for us. Being surrounded by loved ones is always one of life’s greatest joys, and lastly, I share your interest in reading to learn.

      I used to read books on the craft, but I’ve since expanded to books like Digital Minimalism, The New Diary, or even autobiographies like Born A Crime.

      Great stuff here. I really enjoyed this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I try to do little irritating tasks to get momentum going but which are easy though oh so tempting to procrastinate on. The wins give me energy to do the tasks I really want. Something big and annoying requires the timer method to cope with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The word ‘irritating’ really does bring up a very important point, in that we should always tackle the things that are gnawing away at our insides.

      As in, if I know I have to do the taxes with a looming deadline, no amount of writing or exercising is going to give me momentum to face my day.

      Our conscience is a great compass in a way.

      Anyway, always great to see you around, Hetty!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Enjoyed this post, Stuart.
    Now that I have retired and my hectic working life is behind me, I have a choice when to eat my frog. Writing can happen any time of the day, evening or in the wee hours of the sleepless morning!
    Once up, I send a silent gratitude for my day.
    I have always liked my mornings to be quiet, unhurried, and peaceful. So, I put the kettle on, and while it is noiselessly boiling, I quietly put away the dishes washed the previous night. Once that is out of the way, I enjoy my first cuppa made just right by my daughter. Out comes the ipad and I do Wordle. Then play words with friends for about 30 or more minutes while having my breakfast. Once my brain feels alive, I tackle the rest of the to-do list leisurely.
    While working, my mornings were quiet, unhurried, and peaceful. So, I would put the kettle on, and while it was noiselessly boiling, I went over my lesson plans for the day. By the time I finished, I was excited to get ready and go to school, teach and learn with my little ones!
    The long, to-do list for my school day was carefully and creatively crafted so, completing the list was never a chore but a labor of love.
    I agree, “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.”

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    • Wow, it sounds like a blessing to have a to-do list that doesn’t feel like a chore. You seem to have your flow down pat, and it does sound like a great way to usher in the day indeed.

      I do the clearing of the plates in the mornings too! It’s almost like a way to centre the mind, and to have the first chore of tidying done (I can’t make my bed cos my partner is usually still sleeping).

      I love what you’d shared, and it sounds super cosy. Thanks for bringing the comfy vibes here, Chaya!

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  20. Hi, Stuart. I have been trying to shift my frog-eating to the morning (writing and working out) for a while now. And because writing is the scariest for me (read: most meaningful), I have been more successful at eating the working out frog in the morning and my day does go so much smoother. This thought process is helpful. It reminds me to prioritize what I value most.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol, we share the exact same process! I fear working out more than writing, so it’s easy for me to get my writing done first thing. Likewise, YOU’VE highlighted an interesting process of my own, thanks to your comment. I appreciate you, Ashley!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. This really resonates with me, although in a different way since I write in the evening. But it was too easy to just keep doing relaxing evening things and not write. That is, until I decided I really wasn’t okay with not writing. This I think goes back to what you were saying about deciding what is really important.

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    • The best feeling is being bothered by NOT writing, as unpleasant as that is. It’s one of the most reliable ways to maintain our habit, to choose to write over something like Netflix.

      The unfortunate ones would be those whose pain of not writing hasn’t overtaken their desire for comfort.

      Glad you’ve prioritised, Natasha. Here’s to writing more, whatever time you do it!

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  22. I almost crocked with your title Stu…
    😂
    Good one!
    Trouble is I have a lot of “frogs to eat”
    I’ve been rotating them on days and yet I do agree first thing in the morning is best.

    Priorities are key.

    but I’m like P.T., writing, my book, real work ( oh that.. 😱)
    my w/o, pt and then I just want to crawl under the sheets for while longer.

    Great fun and tips always my friend!
    💖👏👏👏👏

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    • I used to be a stickler for eating the same frog every day, because that’s what disciplined people do, right?

      But I’ve since switched up my requirements. Yes, I do write every day, but the content changes. One day it’s for the blog, the next it’s for my novel, just like how you juggle between your frogs. I find it more sustainable that way.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Cindy!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. When I read the title, I thought “Not more Bear Grylls!”

    Jokes aside, I hear those French also like frogs, but I have no confirmation for it. (Cue the surrender jokes.)

    Okay, enough of the jokes, truly this time.

    For me, my frog in the morning is Duolingo. Mostly because I’ve noticed that I just don’t have the energy to learn a language later in the day, even if I take a long nap.

    I also agree that words in the morning flow better. I’m perhaps in a lucky (unlucky) position of not working for someone else, so I get to actually write in the morning. But I do think once I get a job, I won’t be able to do Duolingo and writing in the morning. Waking up five in the morning is out of the question. I like my sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another workaround would be to find a job that doesn’t require you to clock-in too early at work :P

      What language are you learning now? I’ve learned that I best learn languages through first learning the most common words, then going through elementary lessons on YouTube. Duolingo can be too generic for its own good sometimes.

      I also tried learning Russian through those Rosetta Stone CDs before too. It’s also not that practical because I can tell people I’m an engineer (I’m not), and I can order borsch soup (I don’t want to), but I can’t ask people practical questions like ‘how do I say this in Russian’.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, Tanish!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. At the subtle curiousity of wondering if indeed I’d actually like frog (thankyou, Stuart!), I definitely have to say that I eat my frogs in the morning. My biggest pet peeve? Having to wait an hour to make my bed (something about sunlight killing any bed bugs), which cuts into wtiting time. I have a routine, as is kind of laid out in my “A Day In My Life” post, so to have to go back halfway through blogging and make my bed, hat infuriates me no end. I prefer to do my “other” housework in the evening, more so than watching TV even. Why? I don’t know, but TV has always seen like a waste of precious time to me. A great post as always Stuart, and thank you for making me chuckle!

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    • It’s interesting to note that we do get a drive to tidy up before sleeping, and that’s a very legit way of burning any leftover energy for the day. Is it a must to make the bed midway though? I too have a 1–2 hour grace period to make the bed, because my partner usually wakes up much later than I do, but I’ll make the bed after I’m done with my morning routine.

      Maybe I need to start packing the house a little and not binge on Netflix too much at night, lol.

      Always great to see you here, Helen!

      Like

  25. I LOVE this one! Don’t I say that about all of your posts? Probably 🤪 but you’re my favorite blogger so I truly mean it. I HATE doing certain things but you’re right, choosing the most important (and most painful) task for first thing in the morning and tackling it head on makes the entire rest of the day WAY better. Then you can move on to things you actually enjoy and things that you WANT to do. I appreciate this reminder so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a power that comes from doing what you hate (and also necessary), because once that’s over and done with, you get such a boost of confidence of doing other dreadful things. Of course, I’m an avoidant person, so that’s easier said than done, lol.

      Those kind words mean so much to me, LaShelle. I truly appreciate what you said. That also means I’ll get real jealous if you find another favourite blogger, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Enjoyed reading this. I’m likely an outlier here, but I prefer to do a small, easy-but-necessary task first thing. Something that will definitely be accomplished if I start it — like laundry or responding to all my work emails. This gives me a sense of satisfaction — and therefore motivation — because I feel like I’ve accomplished something. This is why I love laundry so much. In fact, it’s really all I ever wanted to do in my life — own and run a laundromat. Anyway. My two cents!

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    • The snowball effect, eh? Whatever works, works! The key word is momentum, and you seem like you’ve found your code to making that happen. That’s so cool that you want to run a laundromat, and have such a clear vision of doing that. I always respect someone who knows exactly what they want. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective, Suzanne!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. That’s good advice. I worked briefly as a financial advisor. In training we were told to make the hard phone calls first. If I didn’t, I’d worry and sweat all day thinking about it and not get much done.

    Liked by 1 person

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