American author and populist philosopher Mark Twain is given credit for a simple quote that changed how I start my day.
If it’s your job to eat a frog,
it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.
A quick Internet search of this quote will show you the many writers, speakers, bloggers and others who have embraced it and spun it into the context of their own work. That’s not my purpose here. I just want to share it with those of you who have never heard it before (like me until recently), or remind those of you who already know this quote of what a powerful, simple, actionable instruction it is.
Here’s how I use it to get Better! Results.
On the wall behind my work desk, I have a large orange Post-It Note with “Eat the Frog” written in a wide marker. When I open my laptop to start my day, I see this note right behind the screen. I can’t miss it. And reacting to this instruction immediately every single day has changed my morning work routine so that I’m now:
- More efficient – I don’t start with low priority busy work. I search around my work area for the single most important task that must be done that day. And I do it right away. Whether that takes two minutes or two hours.
- More effective – My best time of day for creativity and productivity is early morning. I’m confident that’s due in part to my love of coffee! But I’ve been a morning person throughout my career. So it’s simple self-awareness and common sense that directs me to follow Twain’s advice and eat that critical-task frog first thing.
- More relaxed – Once that important chore that would otherwise hang over my day is done, I can take a deep breath and move on to the dozens of other less-critical tasks. Emails, proposals, new training materials for my clients, returning phone calls, and pushing a never ending stream of paper around my desk to its final resting place in files or the recycle bin. The critical task stress is gone leaving me with the energy and focus to tackle the many other important but less urgent items on my ‘To-Do’ list.
If you’re one of the large number of business professionals who struggle to find the time to finish important tasks, or if like me you have a tendency to procrastinate, then get out a large bright Post-It Note and marker right now. Write “Eat the Frog” in large letters, and stick it directly in front of where you’ll sit when you start you day tomorrow. Then eat that frog before doing anything else.
Try it for just one day. If you like the result, try it again for a week. If you get Better! Results, repeat every day until it’s your new morning routine. It’s simple; it’s free, and it works.
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”