Your to-do list can become an endless source of frustration if you don't know how to align your priorities. Not many of us are great at estimating how many tasks we can complete in a single workday; by the end of the workday, there is always something left to do.
This leads many people to either experience burnout or be stuck in one place. But how do you increase productivity without jeopardizing performance? With so many methods available, choosing one that fits your needs and working style is quite challenging.
This post will explain the "Eat the Frog" method and its application in daily tasks.
What Does Eat the Frog Mean?
"Eating the Frog" is a metaphorical phrase that means tackling the most challenging, unpleasant, or daunting task on your to-do list first thing in the morning. The term was popularized by productivity expert Brian Tracy, who wrote a book titled "Eat That Frog!".
The idea behind the phrase is that tackling the most challenging task first will build momentum and motivation to tackle the rest of your to-do list. It also helps prevent procrastination and reduces the mental energy spent worrying about complex tasks throughout the day.
The Frog represents the unpleasant task you're avoiding or dreading, and by "eating" it first, you're getting it out of the way and freeing yourself up to focus on other things.
In summary, "eating the frog" is a strategy for maximizing productivity and reducing stress by prioritizing tasks and tackling the most challenging task first thing in the morning.
Eat the Frog History
The phrase "Eat the Frog" has been in use for more than a century, and its origins can be traced back to Mark Twain, the famous American author, and humorist. Twain once said, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing bad will happen to you the rest of the day."
However, productivity expert Brian Tracy popularized the phrase in his 2001 book, "Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time." The book has strategies that help people overcome procrastination and boost productivity. However, the main point is to complete the most challenging tasks first thing in the morning.
Tracy's book became a bestseller, and the phrase "Eat the Frog" became popular in productivity and time management. Since then, many individuals and businesses have embraced this concept as a powerful strategy for overcoming procrastination and getting more done in less time.
How To Eat a Frog?
Eat the Frog is a pretty straightforward method, but there are still a couple of tips that can help you apply its rules more successfully.
Choose Your Frog
MIT or Most Important Task is usually important but not urgent. However, it creates a lot of mental resistance, causing procrastination if you don't intentionally make time to deal with it. Identify the tasks that you find most difficult to start, and you have found your Frogs.
Select Something You Can Solve Quickly
Your Frog shouldn't take more than half of your work day, and it needs to be clearly defined and realistic, enabling you to start immediately and not procrastinate. Going through your to-do list before lunch will give you a sense of accomplishment and boost the endorphins that will carry you into the rest of your day.
Break It Down
If necessary, you can break down your task into smaller steps, especially if it takes over half a day to complete. Remember, you need to fit this task into a four-hour frame. The next action on your list should be a new frog. For instance, to complete the "Market research" task, your Frog for today might be "Research competition".
Don't Plan Ahead
Once you start breaking down your tasks, you might be tempted to schedule frogs for weeks. But don't do it because it's nearly impossible to forecast tasks accurately into the future, and it will set you behind pretty quickly. The point of Eat the Frog is to start fresh with a singular focus each morning.
Prepare Your Frog the Night Before
You can start slightly ahead, preferably the night before. Many believe you should get everything you need to start tomorrow's Frog before you leave work.
Eat Your Frog First Thing in the Morning
Whatever your Frog might be for the day, do it as soon as you get to work. Don't check your email or social media or schedule a meeting; deal with your Frog first.
Eat That Frog Example
You can easily apply this method with the help of ActiveCollab project management software. You need to create a new task to start with your "frog."
- Open the Task tab in a project,
- Click to add a Task,
- Enter your name, for example, "Today's Frog",
Set other details: there are several options you can explore here, like description (tell others what the Frog is about), attachments, subscribers, task list, assignee, due date (make sure it's set for today), priority (your Frog should have a high priority label), and time estimation among others.
Benefits and Challenges
Let's take a look at the benefits and challenges of the "Eat the Frog" method.
- Overcome distractions: "Eat the Frog" method requires you to push back all your distractions and focus only on tasks that matter.
- Set your agenda: This method demands that you put your agenda before any other requests, like checking email or incoming messages.
- Focus on less, deliver more: The "Eat the Frog" technique forces you to focus on less, even though you can do more. This way, you will save time and reduce stress because you aren't multitasking.
- Utilize better working hours: With the "Eat the Frog" method, you use your best hours to complete your most mentally challenging work.
- Simple and flexible: It's simple, easy, and takes very little of your time and mental resources.
- You start the day with the most challenging task: It might be too overwhelming for some people.
- Can be too rigid or impractical at times: The rule is to focus on the most challenging task, but what happens if your task changes during the day, and you have to focus on something else?
- Might not be too dynamic: Not everyone will find this method dynamic because many of us are used to having a workplace routine.
Eat the Frog and Other Productivity Methods
Various productivity methods can help individuals improve their efficiency and manage their time more effectively. Here are some of the most popular productivity methods companies, product managers, and their staff tend to use:
- Pomodoro Technique
- Eisenhower Matrix
- Kanban Method
- Getting Things Done (GTD) method
- 80/20 rule - Pareto principle
- Time Blocking
- The Seinfeld Method
- Don't Break the Chain
- The Two-Minute Rule
- SMART Goal Setting
- The Ivy Lee Method
- ABCDE Method
These are just a few examples of productivity methods that individuals can use to improve their productivity and manage their time more effectively. Each method has unique approaches and benefits, so it's important to experiment and find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
Research and Studies
According to the studies and research, people misunderstand how the difficulty-ordering of tasks influences efficacy. While the "Eat the Frog" method improves efficiency, people still tend to complete tasks in the opposing order, leaving more challenging matters for the end of the work day. Several independent studies have been conducted, and they found mixed results. While some people experienced increased efficiency, others faced reduced productivity and motivation.