Why You Need to Eat That Frog

Dec 5, 2023 | Coaching, Leadership, Thriving

I recently gave a workshop on time and energy management. As I presented some specific tools, I realized that I needed to heed my own advice and eat my frog.  

Grossed out? Have a queasy feeling just thinking about the idea? Ready to quit reading?

Let me explain. As described by Brian Tracy in Eat That Frog!, the idea is to identify your most challenging but most impactful task for the day. Then do it first. Right away. Get the ickiest task over with.

My default is to busy myself with the quick, easy items on my to-do list. It feels really good to scratch them off. But here’s the thing—in doing so, I use up precious activation energy so that when I come to a challenging task, I rationalize why I can’t possibly do it that day. Meanwhile, some part of me knows very well what I’m doing. I’m distracting myself but I’m not fooling myself. That undone, challenging task is a dark cloud hanging on my shoulders. It drags me down and saps my energy.

In the past, I’ve found the Eat the Frog First strategy to be incredibly helpful with my habitual procrastination on certain tasks, but I’d fallen away from using it. I suppose I got into a habit of doing the harder things on my list and forgot about the frog idea. 

Gradually the procrastination slipped back in. Then I heard myself recommending eating the frog first, and knew I had to start using it myself. I committed to identifying a frog each morning and tackling it first thing.

I have a writing project that has a tight deadline but has not been easy to start. I’ve spent time gathering background information, writing a general outline, then a more specific one. I emailed back and forth with the team for additional background information. I’ve looked at graphs and photos. Yet I dragged my feet on the actual writing.

In comes the frog.

Writing the introduction was a big frog. I wanted to pick an easier frog to commit to, but I wrote it down, had a little pep talk with myself, and launched in before doing anything else. Two hours later, it was done.

It was great to have it finished, but what I was most aware of was how awesome I felt. Powerful, super-charged, free.

The next day my frog was sending an email about a mistake I’d made, a task I had been avoiding. It felt daunting but really didn’t take much time, once I committed to doing it. Three minutes for that frog, and I felt on top of the world.

The third day my frog was reaching out to schedule a conversation that I anticipated to be uncomfortable. But I took the action first thing. Again, I felt a rush of energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the day.

Eating a frog seems revolting and some of our tasks do too. But getting them done frees up our willingness and bandwidth and helps reach our most important goals.

What is your frog today? I challenge you to do it now. 



Diane W. Shannon


Diane Shannon is an award-winning writer, author, and coach. Since leaving practice as a primary care physician due to burnout, she has worked to support physicians in achieving their personal and professional goals and to highlight the changes needed to reduce burnout, improve career satisfaction, and protect the bidirectional healing power of the patient-physician relationship.

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