On any given day, people have a major task that they avoid getting done. It normally is “most important” and people are used to procrastinate on. It’s easy to put if off until after you check your email, go to your meetings, or any other activity you can find that will help you avoid working on that specific task right away. Many researchers that try to find the way to be more productive suggest that we should listen to Mark Twain’s concept of eating a live frog. Mr. Twain suggests to “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”, meaning to do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on your to-do list before you do anything else and get it over with, before you have to think about it too much.
If you let the frog sit, you waste your day dreading it. If you eat it in the morning, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is over.
By “eating a live frog” first you could get both motivated to complete other assignments and a sense of accomplishment early in the day. Since you already accomplished a major task, everything else will feel that much easier and you will be free to do the stuff that you actually enjoy doing.
Prepare today to eat the live frog tomorrow morning.
You can prepare today to eat the live frog tomorrow. You can start by identifying the frog by deciding which is the task you are dreading. Write down your frog on a piece of paper and place it someplace that will be visible to you tomorrow morning. Gather together the tools and material you’ll need to get it done and have it ready for tomorrow morning.
Or….Just change the lens
But, what if making something that disgusts you first thing in the morning, actually sets the tone for an unpleasant day? What if you try changing the lens or see something in a whole new light?
You can think about how completing the task is going to be beneficial to you and the people that surround you. Instead of thinking “I have to prepare the longest report for my boss” you can choose to think “I’m glad my boss delegated this task to me, it means he trusts that I can do the work and that I am the best fitted for it” or “Preparing this report will help me hone my Excel skills, I can add this experience to my résumé”. Decide in advance that performing that job will actually make you happy. Doing this will help making everything about doing it less painful. Simply confronting it first thing in the morning probably won’t make them any less miserable. Training your brain to see something you have to do as something positive can make you to truly enjoy doing it and make you happier once it’s completed.
It is up to you to decide which approach you take to complete your “least favorite” task. What is important is for you to develop a habit of getting things done and get satisfaction from doing it. Satisfaction results in motivation and motivation results in productivity.