We’ve all got things on our to do lists we just don’t want to do. The one that you look at every day and find a reason not to do. Common excuses I like to make include: ‘another day won’t hurt,’ ‘I’m not in the right mood to do that justice now,’ and, ‘I just need to focus on this first, then I’ll knock that one off.’
The trouble is that task you keep dodging ends up occupying way more time and thought space that it would have taken if you’d just got straight onto it or knocked it off. Thinking up all of those excuses not only uses a lot of creative juices, but if you’re anything like me, the knowledge that it’s still sitting there impacts on your ability to focus on those other jobs that are allegedly so much more important.
Years ago I read an article that summed this issue up beautifully around the concept of ‘swallowing the frog.’ The basic premise was that if your job was to swallow a frog, then if you swallowed that frog down first thing each morning nothing else in your day would seem anywhere near as bad.
Like all good habits, you need to be regular and consistent for this to be second nature, and I have to admit I’ve slipped further away from frog swallowing than is ideal in recent years. Frogs recently got reintroduced onto our household menu when the child who employs more of an ‘artful dodger’ style to homework spent an entire weekend avoiding the homework task that had also been postponed every afternoon that week.
None of the usual threats were having any impact, so I decided to try something a bit more left field and introduced the concept of frog swallowing. The idea of your mum telling you to eat a frog was weird enough to at least give it a try, so the homework got done and the resulting feeling of relief was good enough to see a bit of momentum carried forward.
It’s been a good reminder for Stuart and I of what an effective strategy this is, and now we’re all happily dining on frogs on a regular basis. How often do frogs feature on your menu?