Eat the frog
Do you like going to the dentist? I don’t. I have an appointment scheduled soon and I’m dreading it.
It’s not my dentist’s fault. They’re great. It’s my fault. I build the appointment up to be more than it likely will be because I’m never sure what they’ll find.
It could be a breeze: a routine preventative maintenance session, but they could also tell me I need a crown – or multiple crowns! I won’t know until after they’ve finished. Only then, as I rise from the dentist’s chair, will I emerge on the other side of dread. But to do this, first, I must go. I’ve got to do the thing. I’ve got to eat the frog.
Mark Twain wrote, “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.”
I’ve seriously considered framing that quote alongside a stock photo of a frog I purchased a while back for such ends. I want to hang it above my desk in a large frame I’ve intentionally left blank for the past couple of years. The quote has resonated with me since I first encountered it.
We all have things we know we need to do and it’s amazing just how much power even simple tasks can have over us until we’ve completed them. Add a deadline to the mix, and you just might end up with a cloud of dread that hangs over your entire day if you push the task off until the evening.
Imagine you must eat a frog (assuming you otherwise wouldn’t want to). The mere thought of eating the frog gives you the heebie-jeebies, but you must eat the frog – and you must eat the frog today.
If you eat the frog in the morning, once finished, you don’t have to worry about eating the frog for all the other hours that remain in the day. The deed is done. It’s behind you.
However, if you wait to eat the front until the end of the day, you wind up serving yourself a double dose of dread: You still have the frog to eat, but the knowledge of having to eat the frog has likely cast a shadow over everything else that day, too.
Your mid-morning break? You dread eating the frog.
Your afternoon stroll in the park? You dread eating the frog.
Lunch date with a friend? You dread eating the frog.
The frog that you must consume begins to consume you.
Let’s use this blog as an example. I love writing this blog. I choose to write it. No one has given me a deadline to publish an article each week, but because I’ve given myself a deadline, the exercise sometimes turns into a frog.
I’m writing this on a Saturday and my week ends tomorrow night. I know that each hour I delay in sitting down to write this, all the other things I choose to do instead will be colored by the idea that I still need to write this article sometime today or tomorrow.
So, really, it becomes a matter of when?
Do I write it now? Do I eat the frog early? Or do I save it until tomorrow night, right up to the deadline, and let it taunt me all weekend until it’s done?
Dear reader, this week, I have chosen the former. I have pumpkins to carve.
What will you enjoy better once your frog has been eaten today?
Afterthoughts: Readers might know I have a soft spot for Mark Twain. I’ll leave you with his response to another famous quote:
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” –Benjamin Franklin
“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” –Mark Twain