Cold Showered Frogs

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in 2016. This year I’ve taken the time to lay out an actual reading plan, organize the books I want to read, and track them in Goodreads. I find that recording what’s going on helps me get a handle on where I’m spending my time and what I’m getting out of the specific activity.

Eat That Frog! bookThe important point to all this is that I recently finished an excellent book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog! It’s not a new book by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, some might consider it a bit old, since it was originally published in 2001. Heck, he was writing it last century! But there are some pieces of advice that are pretty much timeless. This is one of those books.

The thesis of the book is simple, pick the hardest thing that you have to do today (your frog) and do it first off (eat it). Since it’s the hardest thing you have to do, everything else you have to do will be easier…by definition.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to take his advice. I’ve listed out the things that I need to do and then I pick the hardest one and try to tackle it. My goal is to list out my tasks the night before, so when I wake up I know exactly what my frog is. Then I’ve jumped in and tried to address that task as the first thing I do in the morning.

Note that I said “try to tackle it” and “tried to address” twice in the last paragraph. You see, that’s the rub. When I’m successful at outlining my tasks the night before, I know exactly what my frog looks like for the next morning. Invariably I’ve fretted all night long about how I’m going to eat it. When my frog is big and ugly enough I’ve actually lost sleep over it. I can practically hear it croaking at me throughout the night…disturbing my sleep and causing me angst. On the other hand, if I don’t get my tasks listed the night before, I have to figure out what that big, ugly frog is in the morning. Then I have to contemplate how I’m going to eat it. Not the most appetizing thing.

So for a couple of weeks now, I’ve been trying to eat big, ugly frogs first thing in the morning with limited success.

ShowerheadThen I was reminded of another method for dealing with the hardest thing you’re going to do all day. You may have heard this one too…take an ice cold shower in the morning. The idea is that this is not only difficult, but it will get your blood pumping plus you’ll be in and out of the shower in no time because, well, it’s freaking cold!

So I jumped from the metaphorical idea of eating a frog (OMG, I really hope that’s just a metaphorical idea, because eating an actual frog in the morning would be so gross…ewwww) to the real idea of starting the day with an ice cold shower.

Let’s just say that the cold shower idea lasted exactly zero days. That is, I got into the cold shower and made it all of about 45 seconds before I decided that this was a dumb idea. At that point I turned the heat up like a normal person and took a warm shower.

After the shower was done and I was all warm and cozy, I got ready to start my day. I had successfully listed out my tasks the night before, and I had a bunch of easy-peasy ones as well as one nasty, big, ugly frog. And you know what I did…I kicked the stupid frog to the curb and attacked the easy-peasy tasks. I really attacked them. Working hard, I knocked a bunch of them out of the park and my todo list got shorter and shorter. Things flew off until the only thing left for the day was that one nasty, big, ugly frog. Then I wrestled him to the ground and defeated him too.

Ugly FrogThe next day I skipped the icy cold shower. Yup, there are a few areas where I’m a pretty quick study…and taking icy showers was a lesson that I needed to only be taught once. I grabbed my todo list and tackled the easy-peasy tasks in quick succession. My big, ugly frog was waiting for me…but when I got to him I was on an I’m on a roll, don’t mess with me high and I consumed him in less time that if I’d dined first thing in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that either the icy, cold showers to start your day or eat that frog is bad advice. In fact, it’s great advice…for some people. I’m just not one of those people on a lot of days. I’ve been swinging back and forth between accomplishing lots of easier tasks first thing followed by a day or more of eating that frog first thing. And both methods have worked for me.

Heck, every day varies and every frog looks different, no matter how big, ugly, and nasty he is. Or she is. The point is, some frogs are best served cold…like revenge. Others are better after you’ve had an appetizer, a salad, a couple of glasses of wine, and you’re on a roll.

So don’t feel beat up by the productivity advice that you hear. If eating a frog is the right thing for you on a particular day, or on every day…then by all means munch away. When knocking out itty bitty tasks followed by a biggie works…do that. On the days you don’t get to the big tasks…don’t fret. If it’s important enough it’ll still be there for you the next day.

The point is, everybody is different. Every situation is different. Take the advice that you hear and adapt it to your needs. Fit it into your life. And don’t feel guilty about it.

Making you feel guilty is your Mom’s job!

Stern Mom