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Eating Live Frogs

The Disgusting Yet Compelling Cure for Procrastination


I’m eating live frogs this morning. Figurative ones to be sure, but eating I am. Why? Because I have things to accomplish.

I was once chatting with a group of industry associates and my dear friend Malak shared this Mark Twain quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  That thought sticks with me when I am torn between doing the things I want to do and doing the things I need to do.

One of the most frequent questions I hear from participants in my productivity and organization speeches and seminars is, “but what do I do about procrastination?” To a great extent, procrastination is a first world problem, a modern problem. If we had to grow and preserve all the food we needed to survive, if we had to spackle and fortify our homes for winter, we would feel the howls of survival nipping at our heels at all times. But we don’t, so we can put things off. What do we put off? The less appealing, less entertaining, more energy-demanding things. The live frogs.

I’m not a fan of complicated organization systems (if you want to learn about my organization system, sign up for one of my organization webinars or buy the video). The simpler the system, the more you are likely to use it. But I do strongly endorse one filter. Identify the things you don’t want to do. Do this consciously. Yes, of course you unconsciously know the things you don’t want to do – your eyes are probably skipping past them as you review your to-do list. But consciously pluck out the things that are least appealing to you, and schedule them for first thing in the morning. Not three weeks from now, but tomorrow. Monday. Your next opportunity. Do them first.

I have a whole list of things I want to do, and getting out in the yard is at the top of that list. I also have things I need to do. So I jumped up this morning and headed for my desk. Now I’m done, and I’ll head for the yard with a clean conscience and a happy heart. Of course, I’ve already scheduled my first hour Monday morning for a live frog that’s due on Tuesday. But that’s OK. It will get done, and the rest of my day will be terrific.

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