I’m someone who tends to go by inspiration, and I’ve long been bothered by my scattered approach to setting goals, so I was searching for an effective way to make it through my to-do list. It seems so easy to pick out the things I prefer doing or feel inspired to tackle first, but unfortunately, this strategy often leads to procrastination, especially since those “favorites” often aren’t the most important or priority tasks. Since the important stuff doesn’t just disappear, I find myself cramming in order to fit everything in.
Something definitely had to change, and one morning during my daily devotions, I specifically prayed that God would help me get a handle on my poor prioritizing skills.
A few days later when browsing through stalls at a flea market, a thin book caught my eye. The odd title, You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School, peeked out from among a pile of dusty secondhand books crammed into a cardboard box. I pulled it out and cracked it open to a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
The accompanying article explained the basic idea of tackling the most daunting task first, likening those tasks to eating a frog before getting to more appealing to-dos.There were many other useful anecdotes on getting things done, but this picture stuck with me, and I realized it could be the answer to my prayer for a strategy.
Since I’ve had a severe back problem from the age of ten, daily exercise and stretching has been a must to help me function through the day, but over the years, it’s become a chore that I sometimes dread. Getting this routine off my to-dos was definitely going to be my first “frog” of the day.
Identifying this and other “frogs” felt strange in the beginning, but this simple tactic has improved my work habits and helped keep procrastination at bay. Even on days when I don’t have time to write a to-do list, I still remember to search out a “frog” or two that need my attention first.
The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.—Steven Pressfield (b. 1943)