Eat The Frog Method: Do The Hardest Task First
Most people have this notion that productivity is about doing the maximum number of tasks in a day. While you can't deny the small dopamine rush of checking off a task on your to-do list, this approach may not always help you reach your long-term goals.
You may end up checking off all your small tasks first thing in the morning and get drained. You may end up putting off your more significant tasks that need more energy.
Inevitably you end up prioritizing more manageable tasks and procrastinating on the larger ones. The importance of tasks doesn't factor into your decisions.
If you think you're doing this a lot, you may find the "Eat The Frog" method useful.
Eat the frog is a productivity method that productivity consultant Brian Tracy introduced in his book 'Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.'
He developed this technique to help practitioners focus all their energy on their day's most important tasks.
The technique advises practitioners to tackle their most important tasks first thing in the day. It doesn't necessarily mean the biggest task of the day; it could be what you dread doing or what you want to put all your energy into.
According to Brian Tracy, "the frog is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it."
Brian Tracy named this technique after the famous words of Mark Twain:
If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.
With this approach, you can focus your energy on what matters most. When you have too many tasks, you may put off your most difficult ones until the end. We often clear our easiest tasks first thing when we sit in front of our desks. At the end of the day, we may find that we didn't finish doing what's most important to us.
Another aspect of this is that when we focus our energy on completing the maximum number of tasks a day, we may forget to do what helps us reach our goals. We all have spent entire days cleaning the house or doing the laundry to justify not working on the budget or making a business plan. Eating the frog method helps us face our most challenging tasks head-on and help us reach our long-term goals.
Eat The Frog is easy to understand, even if it may take a while to implement it well.
Every day before you start your tasks, pick the most important one. As mentioned before, it can be something other than the one that takes the most time or a lot of effort (it could be). It's what you define as important, often the one you're dreading and most likely to procrastinate on.
Do this task before you do anything else. If you have two or more critical tasks, pick the difficult one first, finish it off, and then move on to the next one.
Make this a daily habit; tackle the most difficult or important task first thing in the morning before moving on to anything else. In the long run, this approach will help you overcome the fear of difficult tasks or stop procrastinating on them.
For instance, if you use the Get Things Done method and plan the tasks for the day or the week, add your most important task at the top of the list. Align your long-term goals with these tasks to these tasks. If you use the Pomodoro technique, try to finish your most important in the first 25 minutes or within the first Pomodoro.
You don't need to assign time for just one task alone first thing in the morning. You can set your targets according to your schedule and the nature of your work to figure this out. Some practitioners go for three or more important daily tasks aligned with their different goals. But it's important to find a steady number and stick to it, or you may procrastinate your tasks again.
Similarly, you can combine Eat The Frog with other techniques like time blocking, systemist, and other techniques. This method can augment your existing productivity techniques. It can give you that extra energy boost for the most critical tasks,
Here are a couple of tips to make the most out of this productivity method:
Your choice of frogs daily can determine how quickly you'll achieve your long-term goals. Generally, you should pick the task you're most likely to put off to another day as the first frog for the day.
But you should also consider your long-term plans when doing this. Picking the task we don't want to do is not always the right approach. For instance, it may not make sense to wash your clothes; the first thing in the day just because you procrastinate on your laundry.
When you pick your frogs, ensure you align them with your long-term goals.
The whole point of this method is to stop procrastinating - to face your frogs. It is to help you reduce the starting friction and get you going.
But the technique is moot if you identify your frogs well but keep procrastinating. Plans and strategies are only as good as how you implement them.
When you procrastinate on your frogs, it can affect your entire day. They will keep hopping around inside your head, distracting you even if you manage to do the rest of your tasks.
Always eat your frogs' first thing in the morning.
Eat The Frog is not too complicated to implement. The Get Things Done method requires some planning to keep you going. The Pomodoro technique requires you to adhere to a schedule. Compared to this, Eat The Frog is easy.
It's as simple as picking the tasks you are likely to procrastinate on and doing them first thing in the morning.
So it's easy for you to forget this or not take it seriously. But to see the results, you must make this a habit and follow it regularly.
Your frogs are usually the ones that drain your energy a lot or require all of your focus. One of the goals of this method is to give you that complete flow state when you can focus all your energy on one thing without any distractions.
Since these frogs are your most important daily tasks, you cannot afford to delay them or affect the quality of your output. Our brains are not parallel processors, they're more of serial processors. By trying to tackle more than one, we'll be overloading ourselves. This can affect the quality of your output.
Plan your tasks in advance, yes, but don't plan your frogs at least until the night before.
Having a plan will help you manage all of your tasks effectively. It will ensure that you get everything done and on time. But life happens, priorities shift, and your plans must be flexible enough to include that. Planning the first thing you're going to do every day will take away this flexibility.
Every day before you start, look at your pending tasks and then identify your frogs. If you want to plan a bit, do this the night before.
Not every productivity technique or method will work for everyone, however popular they're. You have to work with it for a while and tweak them as needed to make them work. Similarly, with the Eat The Frog approach, having just one frog a day may work for you. But if you wear a lot of hats at your workplace or in your personal life, you may need more than a single frog. In such situations, experiment with two or three frogs and find out which works for you.
Either way, remember that even if you have two or three frogs, you still have to pick one and then do it first, followed by the rest.
MagicTask is a powerful task or project management tool for individuals and teams. The solution works around an individual's style instead of forcing users into a specific method. With MagicTask, users can keep track of their pending tasks and manage them effectively and efficiently.
It divides your tasks into two sections: Backlogs and My Focus. When you create a new task, it gets automatically added to the Backlog. This view is available for all the projects and workspaces and the task list for the individual users.
When Eat The Frog practitioners start the day, they can look at all their pending tasks and move their frogs to the My Focus section. This helps them keep track of their most important tasks for their day and check them off first.
Besides this, the platform also lets you collaborate with your team members. You can assign them tasks you need help or assistance on and give them the complete details within the card. MagicTask also lets you set deadlines for the different tasks and set priorities for them.
When your team members open MagicTask, they can quickly figure out which tasks are essential and which can be set aside for later in the day. With this, they can decide on the frogs for the day.
MagicTask also has a completely gamified environment that motivates users to complete their tasks. The platform has many themes, giving the environment a new interface. Users can also compete with their team members and the platform's global user base.
Check it out now, it's free, and it will take your productivity to a whole other level.