Time Management Blog Series: Eat the Frog

Time management is an area where most of us could use additional practice and skills. Over a series of posts, we’ll highlight time management techniques to give you different tools to utilize depending on your needs, preferences and work style. The reality is that the best productivity technique is the one you’ll actually use and stick with, so give different approaches a try and see what works best for you.

We’ll focus here on leveling up your time management skills with the Eat the Frog method.

Eat the Frog: What It Is

“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.”

Inspired by a quote commonly attributed to Mark Twain, Eat the Frog isn’t just a catchy phrase but also a powerful approach to help you reach high levels of performance and productivity. Deceptively simple, Eat the Frog comes down to one simple activity: identify the Most Important Task (MIT) or “frog” for your day and complete it first.

How It Works

  1. Identify Your Frog/MIT. Just one—pick your most challenging, most important task for the day.
  2. Eat the Frog. Complete this task first thing in the morning.
  3. Repeat Every Day. Observe how consistently “eating a frog” every day adds up to large results over time.

It really is that simple! Eat the Frog can be combined with other productivity methods — for example, the Pomodoro Technique — but is also a powerful tool in and of itself.

Who Will It Benefit?

While the Eat the Frog approach can work well for just about anyone, it may be an especially good fit for you if you meet any of these criteria:

  • You struggle with procrastination.
  • You have trouble deciding what to work on.
  • You feel overwhelmed by your to-do list.
  • You have a hard time sticking to a productivity/time management system.
  • You complete a lot of work but aren’t making progress on important projects.

Why It’s Effective

Eat the Frog is a powerful time management tool for a number of reasons.

  • It’s simple, straightforward and flexible. Maintaining a complex, multi-step productivity method can feel overwhelming. Eat the Frog is a simple approach you can fall back on at any time with almost zero prep work.
  • It sets you up for an easy “win” at the start of your day. Any day you “eat your frog” is a good day. Tackle a difficult, important task first thing to gain momentum and motivation for the remainder of your day.
  • It allows you to set your own agenda. Rather than beginning your day in a reactive mode — responding to emails and addressing the needs of others — put your highest-priority task first on your daily agenda before other requests take you in other directions.
  • It provides space for deep work. Eat the Frog forces you to push back against external and internal distractions and focus on one task at a time while prioritizing actions that will bring you closer to your goals.

Additional Considerations

Here are tips to help you consistently and successfully apply this simple time management technique.

  • When choosing your frog/MIT, consider that these are typically tasks that are important but not urgent—the type of task that creates mental resistance and leads to procrastination if you don’t intentionally create space for it.
  • Choose a task you’ll be able to complete in 1-4 hours. A frog should be clearly defined and realistic, only requiring a few hours, tops. If the task can’t be completed in 1-4 hours, it needs to be broken down into smaller steps.

Below are additional resources that may help you establish a time management approach that works for you. Keep an eye out for additional posts in the Time Management Blog Series that dive into the Eisenhower Matrix, time blocking and more. Do you have other time management tips? Share in the comments section — your ideas may be just the thing another person needs to succeed with time management.

Additional Resources

Determining Your Time Management Style (6-minute elevateU video)

Managing Your Time So It Doesn’t Manage You (19-minute elevateU course)

Time Management Blog Series: Pomodoro Technique (SourceLive blog post)

The Power of Habit (OPD Instructor-Led Course)

Sources

Kane, Becky. Eat the Frog. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/eat-the-frog.

Tracy, Bryan. Eat That Frog: Brian Tracy Explains the Truth About Frogs. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.briantracy.com/blog/time-management/the-truth-about-frogs/.

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