Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
His point is we all have tasks that are unpleasant or difficult. Rather than procrastinate, do it first and get it over with. The worst part of the day is over. You can look forward to the more pleasurable activities planned for the day.
Author Brian Tracy wrote a book based on the concept. The book, entitled Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time is even viewed as a time management system. In this article from the Monday.com blog, the author and her “partner-in-crime” try this method and log the pros and cons. Spoiler alert…they gave up after two days.
“Frog Legs” instead?
Have you ever eaten frog legs? Frog legs are a common delicacy, especially in France. What if you could take something that is unpleasant and turn it into a delicacy?
In The Four-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris poses the question, “What would this look like if it were easy?”
What if we could take the difficult task and make it easy? What if we could turn “eat that frog” into “enjoy frog legs”?
So, why is it difficult?
When you have identified the frog, can you pinpoint what makes it so unpleasant?
- I don’t have the right tools
- The tools don’t work well.
- I don’t really know where to start.
- I’m not good at it.
- It will take too long.
If you can answer that question, you’re on your way to making the difficult things easy.
Can you break the task down into smaller parts? As one example, let’s take the article you’re reading now. Each week, the piece of content I bring you appears as text in the blog, as a podcast, as a YouTube video, and as a newspaper column. There are many steps involved! Here are a few:
- Coming up with the idea
- Outlining the points I want to make
- Drafting the article
- Recording, editing, and uploading the podcast
- Recording, editing, and uploading the video
- Embedding the podcast and the video into the blog post
- Finding a suitable photo to serve as the thumbnail image for the video and the featured image for the blog
- Pulling that image into Canva, adding the title on top of it, downloading it, compressing the photo, uploading the photo into my website’s library, adding it to the blog, and adding it as the thumbnail for YouTube.
See what I mean?
“Write this week’s content” is, without a doubt, a frog…a big frog.
But what would it look like if it were easy?
Break it into smaller pieces
You just saw a list of the subtasks that go into producing one piece of content. Let’s face it, going to a free site such as Pixabay and downloading a suitable picture of a frog to use in the featured image just isn’t hard.
Is your “frog” a frog because of the number of steps involved? If so, start breaking it down and batching it together.
Batch your work
Producing a new piece of content each week means producing four or five every month. How do I keep track of everything?
I have a spreadsheet with a row for the date of every Tuesday extending far into the future. That spreadsheet provides a place to trap an idea for a post to be produced months from now. No good idea is ever lost. The columns list the steps involved in producing the content.
I work a month ahead and batch the steps:
- I work on the titles for all four or five posts for the month during one sitting.
- When I look for a picture of a frog to use, I’m also looking for pictures for all posts for that month and downloading them all to the desktop.
- Next, I open Canva, create a new blank project, and add a place for the headline and add another for the name of my website.
- Next, I duplicate that slide three or four times. The name of my website is already there, and I simply paste the name of the post into each slide.
- I drag the images downloaded to my desktop to each of the frames and in a few seconds, I download the whole set.
- I like to compress the resulting images, so I drag the whole set into Optimizilla, let it compress them all, and download the results to my computer desktop.
- I’ll need those featured images for the blog post, for YouTube thumbnails, and for my weekly newsletters. So, I drag the whole set into my website’s media library, my Constant Contact image library, and a folder where I keep all blog featured images. The folder is sorted chronologically, so when it’s time to upload all four or five YouTube videos in one sitting, I have the thumbnails ready to upload.
Do you see why batching is so important? If I had to go to Pixabay and then Canva and then Optimizilla, and then my website, and then Constant Contact, well…that could get old really quickly.
By the way, if you’re doing a similar type of repeating project that has repeating steps, you may be interested in learning more about my content creation calendar. All the information is in this post: How to Create a Robust Content Calendar.
The tools and the know-how
Do you hate to eat that frog because you don’t have the tools which would make it easy? Are you just not sure you know what you’re doing? For a long time, I resisted producing video because I simply didn’t have a good strategy for making it easy. Once I figured out I could just record by doing a Zoom meeting with myself and hitting the record button, the lightbulb came on. When I did a little research, found a free video editor, and searched YouTube for a couple of quick-start tutorials, I was all set. You can read about that experience in this post: How to Create Video with Zoom and Edit with Shotcut.
In today’s world, when you’re clear on what you want to learn, you’ve accomplished half the battle.
The “Fab 5”
The literature on time management is filled with the suggestion that you start the day with the important tasks, the tasks that are going to bring you closer to the goals you have established as being important to your success either personally or professionally.
My advice is exactly the same. On my digital task list, Remember The Milk, my list for today is divided into four sections:
- Fab 5
Plan your day the evening before. What are you selecting for your “Fab 5”? Are they worded clearly so they’ll be easier to do? Are you excited about them because of how life will be better after they are done? Do they make you excited about the possibilities for the day ahead? If not, you’re not through planning.
First thing in the morning, you’ll be looking at the “Fab 5.”
But a question remains…
Will you be looking at five “frogs”? Do you really want to eat that frog?
Or, will you be looking at that delicacy…five pairs of tasty frog legs? You can’t wait to dig in.
“What would this look like if it were easy?” That’s the question for each of us.
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