Over 15 years ago, with teacup in hand, curled up on the two-seat couch in my one-bedroom apartment overlooking Stockholm city’s rooftops, I dove deep into a book by Brian Tracy.
Little did I know that soon, not only would I too call California (the place where the author lived) my home, but also his metaphor about frogs would be forever ingrained in my brain.
You know how it works: Stories and metaphors make things so much easier to remember.
What the Book is About
Translated from Swedish, the book was called “Swallow the Ugliest Frog First – 21 Ways to get More Things Done in a Shorter Amount of Time”.
In case you want to check it out, the American title of the book is “Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time”.
Side note: Isn’t it interesting how book and movie titles change for different countries?
The main idea behind the book (and the frog metaphor) is that in order to be productive and successful in what you do, you need to develop the habit of tackling your biggest and hardest task first thing in the morning. Without thinking about it.
It’s based on something Mark Twain once said: If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.
So the author of the book suggests: “Just eat that frog”.
In other words: Less talk. Less thinking. More “just do it”.
If you have more than one important task, start with the biggest, hardest and most imperative first or…if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
According to Mr. Tracy, by training your brain to start your morning this way you’ll unconsciously go about the rest of your life the same way.
And who wouldn’t like to get all those 300-something important tasks done faster and be able to add on even more great projects to the list?
My 2 Cents
I’m not sure about you, but when I don’t work on or haven’t finished that big task, it still takes up so much mental energy. It sits there in the back of my head like a distraction and a feeling of unease, which makes me less productive with other tasks too.
To me, the frog metaphor makes perfect sense.
I can’t say I have mastered the art of always eating it (yet), but the ingrained picture in my head actually helps me be more productive and the book still sits in my bookshelf as an additional reminder.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, it might serve you better if you come up with your own non-animal version of this metaphor that still gets the point across, or there’s a chance those big and important tasks will never ever get done. Let’s not go into shut down mode here.
So from me, nowadays a California resident, to you, maybe curled up on a couch somewhere else out there in the world, I’m passing on the frog metaphor and hope it will help you too.
If getting stuck or feeling overwhelmed is the reason for your less than desirable productivity level, check out this blog post.