Eat That Frog (or start with a few tadpoles)


Have you heard of the productivity practice where you are supposed to “eat that frog?”  Sometimes personal productivity just gets a little bit weird.  This idea comes from Brian Tracy’s bestselling book Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. The idea is this:

  1. Identify your most important (and typically most difficult) task of the day (this is your “frog”);
  2. Do that task first, before anything else (this is where you “eat” it).

The thought is that if you do this one item, then whatever happens the rest of the day doesn’t matter so much.  All of the crises and distractions that occur later that day won’t have as much of an impact since you already completed one key item that will move you forward toward achieving your goal.

I understand the theory and even recommend that folks give it a try, but it doesn’t work for me. I find that I can’t just jump right into my most important task of the day first. I need a warm up.

So, what’s a good alternative? Start by eating a few tadpoles. A “tadpole” is a smaller, less daunting task that lets you build up momentum to eat that frog. Examples would be a quick first draft of something you need to write, editing an earlier draft or compiling your monthly expense report. It gets you in the groove and sets you up for later success.

So figure out what works best for you and “eat that frog” or start with a few tadpoles. The point is to make the beginning of your day uber productive so that whatever happens the rest of the day doesn’t matter so much.