Surviving Twenty Something

Eat the frog: an ode to getting things done

Life Advice, UniversityJordanna Rowan
Eat the Frog: an Ode to Getting Things Done

Yes, the frog.

I heard this term for the first time several days ago (despite it's being 100 years old) and realized it applies beautifully to what I've been working on lately.

"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."

— Mark twain

Being a Mark Twain quote, there are many versions of this kicking around out there on the internet, but I like this one best. Okay, so this frog thing? An eccentric way of saying "do the shittiest thing on your list first."

Oh, right— thanks, Jordanna. That's super easy. #allmyproblemssolved

It's not easy— certainly not at first— but it is life-changing. As a former dedicated procrastinator and worrier, I remember this struggle well: the immediate relief of pushing the unpleasant task aside and focusing on something else, with the nagging stress and dread, growing steadily stronger and nipping at its heels.

But I think if you break down procrastination, what you find is fear, and uncertainty. What you need to beat procrastination isn't motivation, or inspiration, it's bravery. Bravery, and the willingness to simply spend some time doing something you might not enjoy that much (besides, discomfort is good for you. It's where the life-transforming growth and change happens). 

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why do you not want to begin this task?
  • How do you think you will feel?
  • What do you fear happening? Difficulty? Wasting time? Doing something wrong?
  • What's the worst thing that could happen if you start? What's the worst thing that could happen if you don't start?

It's not news to procrastinators: getting it out of the way first will make these feelings go away faster. If there is nothing you can do to make that task go away, you may as well only endure the doubt and unpleasantness for as long as you need to.

Who knows— it may not be as bad as you are anticipating (it rarely is, unless you've left it so long that you're running out of time, resources, and the ability to ask for help).

If you're really struggling to get started with something, remind yourself: why are you doing this in the first place? Where is it leading you? What's the end goal, what's the dream you're chasing? And is it worth it? What happens to that dream if you don't take the individual steps to get there?

On some level, procrastinating is absolving us of responsibility. It lets us say "Oh, I did it last minute, so I'm not expecting it to be great." It lets us place the blame on the lack of time, rather than the lack of effort. Accepting that something needs more work is hard. Admitting that a second draft or attempt needs to be made is tough. And doing it? That's brave.

That shows you've got the guts to chase great things.


Why getting it over with and out of your head is the best road to productivity and happiness— and how to get there.