Choose Your Frog

I wake this morning to the first day with no pain, and the swelling has subsided on my left cheek. I now understand the expression “That’s about as much fun as a root canal!” The rich scent of bacon frying and fresh coffee call me back to life.

After a ten-day vacation, I returned to a week of pain from an abscessed tooth that knocked me off center. But today I feel focused and ready to tackle what’s on my desk – until I sit down and wonder where to begin.

  • bills to pay
  • blog to write
  • emails to answer
  • new group series to prepare
  • marketing plans for new books
  • phone calls to make

Before we headed towards Atlanta and other stops last month, I came upon a well-known saying attributed to Mark Twain. It was new to my ears and startling. It goes something like this: If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve put it behind you for the rest of the day and nothing else will seem as daunting.

The live frog is your worst task, the one you’re tempted to keep postponing by answering phone calls, catching up with online reading, or the greatest time-eaters, Facebook and email. It’s also probably your most important task of the day.

Brian Tracy’s written a time-management classic titled Eat That Frog that’s well worth the read. Gina Trapani also has a great little video for further explanation at Work Smart: Eat a Live Frog First Thing in the Morning. I came across the whole idea at Fast Company a website I imbibe to boost my creative energy and give me great tips on working smarter.

I’m sure getting your worst task done first thing in the morning is buried somewhere in Stephan Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People but I’ve drifted from my commitment to practicing those habits and I needed a refresher. Here’s what I learned.

  1. Before you go to bed tonight, designate your most important task for tomorrow. It is also the one you’re most likely to procrastinate working on. Write it down on a sticky note and attach it to the bathroom mirror, or enter it in your Smart Phone reminder with an alarm, and also put a notice on your desk – your cleaned off desk where you can see it when you go there tomorrow morning.
  2. Get up early enough to get your spiritual and physical commitments completed so you’re refreshed and ready for work. All of this hinges on going to bed early enough and getting enough sleep. It’s all important. It all matters. A lot.
  3. When you get to your desk – there’s the sticky note reminding you which frog to eat. It also means you do not open that email program, or see who posted on your Facebook wall. You ignore everything except that lovely green thing waiting to be devoured. Eating him is going to set the tone for the rest of your day. The key is to get at it before you’ve time to think much about anything else.

Practicing this every morning, first thing, when the office (or house) is quiet and you haven’t started splitting off in ten other directions, produces endorphins that bring a strong sense of accomplishment. By 11 AM, even if you haven’t completed the task, you will be so focused you’ll be better able to say No to interruptions.

By the way, this rule applies to any kind of work: cleaning out your garage, preparing a report, writing a series of Bible studies, making a Halloween Harvest costume, or getting ready for a speech.

At the end of the day, set yourself up for tomorrow’s frog and follow the same routine. If there’s material needed to get you started, do your best to have that at hand too. By week’s end, you’ll soar with the knowledge that you’ve completed five of your most important tasks. And you’ll be well on your way to creating a habit that makes you 90% more efficient than most people you work with.

Frog legs, anyone?




  1. Brilliant. Life directing. Let’s make it count. Empowering and easy to implement. Read and eat that frog!

  2. F – FOREVER
    R – RELY
    0 – ON
    G – GOD

    Be sure to include God in the mix :}

  3. I also remember what I learned years ago about FROG …. Forever Rely on God.
    After reading your article, I realize that God’s perfect order for each of us begins with our time with Him each day along with other self-care habits.
    After that, as you say, eat a frog.
    Does that mean I have to wash windows before I enjoy working on my teaching notes (which is always a joy). I have put off the windows for several weeks and now it is getting ‘too cold’! Washing windows has now become an uncomfortable task. Yet, I guess that is what eating frogs is all about.
    Thanks for the reminder! Windows . . . on my tomorrow list.

  4. Loved your post, Gail. Wish I could be there to help with those windows!

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