Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 01 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Alphonsus Liguori
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

This cure for procrastination works like magic



Calah Alexander - published on 07/13/18

It's all about "eating the frog" for breakfast ...

If there’s one thing that I hate doing, it’s paperwork. Spreadsheets, tracking templates, any kind of organizational task makes me want to take a flying leap out the nearest (hopefully ground-floor) window. So what usually happens in my life is that I do everything else first, and accidentally run out of time for the spreadsheets.

Unfortunately for me, adulting requires doing unpleasant tasks like spreadsheets, so I’ve recently begun trying to take the less palatable parts of life more seriously.

Even more unfortunately, I’m discovering that I don’t actually run out of time on purpose — I simply don’t have enough time to do everything, mostly because my children are home for summer vacation and someone is somehow always starving, even though they just had lunch five minutes ago.

So I finally bit the bullet and instituted the frog rule in my life, and y’all … it is working. My spreadsheets, they are no longer blank.

What’s the frog rule, you ask? Well, I’ll let Curiosity tell you about this magic cure-all for procrastination:

Supposedly, Mark Twain once said something along the lines of, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” … Twain wasn’t literally suggesting people eat frogs for breakfast (we think). And while this quote, like many, may have been misattributed to the legendary author, a longer version of the supposed quote at least clears up the context a bit: “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.” In more practical terms, the “frog” is your worst, most unsavory task of the day. You know, that one thing you’re dreading. This daunting task is probably also your most important, and the one that you’re most likely to procrastinate on. If you have two frog tasks, start with the one you’re least excited to do.

There are a couple of reasons why doing the task I dread the most first thing is working out so well for me. First, if I dive straight into spreadsheets before I’ve even knocked back my coffee, my brain hasn’t woken up enough to figure out what I’m doing and give me reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Less resistance, more progress.

Second, while I have a lot of trouble starting unsavory projects, once I get started I won’t stop till it’s done. This can backfire in instances of active procrastination, like when I’m diligently tracking down the history of World War I reparations that led directly to the rise of the Nazi party, but it comes in handy when we’re talking spreadsheets. Once I fill in that first Excel cell, I won’t stop until I can close the file out and shake the Excel dust off my typing fingers.

Third, and probably most importantly, getting the stupid spreadsheets done before the day has even really started makes me feel like Wonder Woman. No kidding, the sense of accomplishment I get from seeing a completed spreadsheet is rivaled only by the sense of accomplishment I get from seeing the sparkly shower I just scrubbed out. The most hated tasks truly are the most psychologically rewarding … so what are you waiting for? Eat that frog for breakfast!


Read more:
9 Strategies from the saints for fighting laziness and procrastination

Personal Growth
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.