Have you ever found yourself procrastinating on a big task?
Did you know that there’re proven techniques to help you out?
I’ve been a fire-up-my-email-client-first-thing-in-the-morning guy for long years. It felt good because I didn’t have to deal with more challenging tasks. Plus, I’d showcase that I’m super productive.
Although there’re situations where it can be useful to check email first in the morning (and sometimes I still practice it), there’s a more productive way to start your day.
So, if you’re ready, let’s make frogs an appealing dish on your plate.
Eat that frog: a fundamental principle
The phrase was coined by Brian Tracy in his landmark book, Eat That Frog. Your frogs are your biggest and most challenging tasks. These are the tasks that you want to avoid because they seem ugly. You should find a way to accomplish them as early in the morning as possible.
Low-value tasks are like rabbits; they multiply continually… Since you must procrastinate anyway, decide today to procrastinate on low-value activities.— Brian Tracy
Here’s why morning is the best time to eat your frogs:
- There’re few, if any, distractions in the morning.
- As you progress with your day, you’re receiving more and more pieces of information that add to the noise in your head. In other words, you build up decision fatigue.
- Doing your biggest tasks in the morning creates momentum—the rest of the day is smooth sailing.
- Once you get into the habit of dealing with your frogs in the morning, you set yourself up for a productive day. And that’s addictive! You feel so good about it.
The frog analogy has been a game-changer for me, and it can be for you, too. After reading 50+ self-help books, I found that this is central to productivity.
The Big Rocks popularized by the late Stephen Covey, the MITs (Most Important Tasks) proposed by Leo Babauta, the 80/20 Principle, the Daily Big Three coined by Michael Hyatt, or the Core Hours recently proposed by Michael Sliwinski all come down to identifying your most important tasks and dealing with them every day in a certain context.
The frog analogy isn’t an exception, either. What makes it compelling is the visual representation of your ugliest yet most important tasks. And this is when Nozbe comes to the scene …
Setting up Nozbe to eat your frogs
Nozbe is the perfect tool to implement the frog technique. You can tag your tasks in Nozbe (these are called categories), but that’s nothing new. Unlike many task management tools, however, Nozbe displays your tags with different icons and colors. This is very useful for someone who is a visual person, and we’ll make use of this feature as well.
So, hover over categories, create a new one, then enter edit mode, and select the frog from the built-in icon library. Pick a color you want—green works well with frogs.
You’re now ready to eat your frogs with Nozbe.
Frogs in action
Here’s how I begin my mornings with Nozbe.
I jump into my Priority view, open the infobar, and select my frog category from the filter. Nozbe will then display my frogs only. I go through my frogs and once I’m finished, I clear the filter to see my remaining tasks that have been scheduled or marked with a star.
Blocking out time for your frogs is considered best practice. Thanks to Nozbe, it happens automatically when you connect Nozbe with your calendar. Because I’d assign an estimated time to my frogs in Nozbe, they’ll appear as time blocks in my Google calendar. Great, isn’t it?
Now that you’ve learned how to eat your frogs, it’s time to get to know them better.
How to identify your frogs?
So, how do you identify your frogs and make sure that you deal with them?
I have a recurring task in Nozbe:
What’s the most valuable use of my time right now?
This is what I borrowed from Brian Tracy to help me gravitate to my frogs. This task shows up in my priority view every workday. (Nozbe makes it easy to repeat whatever task you want and customize your settings. This particular task repeats every week from Monday to Friday.)
The next thing is to plan out your frogs in advance.
End your day with your frogs in mind
You want a sustainable system, right? To ensure that you could work on your frogs early in the morning takes some planning upfront.
End your day by planning out your frogs for tomorrow. This takes 5 minutes but has an enormous benefit to your productivity.
So, how do you make it as easy as possible?
By creating a rock-solid checkout habit. What successful people all have in common is that they rely heavily on their productivity habits. And planning out the next day is one of those habits.
Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance— British Army adage
Create a recurring task in Nozbe with a checklist. Here’s how it looks mine.
Honestly, I don’t even need it anymore, because I do it on autopilot.
But having your frogs in your task manager is only half the battle …
After years of trial and error, I realized that …
- You want to measure your progress, otherwise, your goals will remain a sheer fantasy
- You want to use a sustainable system that keeps you motivated
- You want action-driven templates that will act as an incentive for you to make progress
That’s why I created my very own Progress Planner. And after years of tweaking it, I want to share it with you.
With the Progress Planner, you’ll get a simple system to distill your goals into easy-to-manage tasks.