It’s 3pm and you’re cleaning out your inbox. Your inbox isn’t full, but you’ve decided that this is a worthwhile task for right now, because the alternative is starting your report that’s due on Monday. The report is going to take you at least 5 hours, so there’s no point starting it now. You promise yourself you’ll start it first thing in the morning.
Or it’s 5pm and you really should go to the gym, but it’s a Wednesday and it’s really busy on a Wednesday evening so you promise yourself you’ll go in the morning because the morning is quieter and you’ll get so much more done then.
Or it’s 10pm and you’ve noticed you’re really tired lately so you promise yourself you’ll go to bed early and go straight to sleep. Then you stay up 3 more hours scrolling through Instagram. You’ll have an early night tomorrow, promise.
In the morning, you’re still tired so you snooze your alarm and never make it to the gym. You promise yourself you’ll go after work.
Then you get to work late so you try and catch up on the emails you missed before starting your report. You get so bogged down in responding that it’s 3pm again. Way too late to start that report.
And so it goes.
Putting off tasks that you don’t want to do is never a good strategy and yet so many of us do it in almost every aspect of our lives. Rather than admitting we simply won’t do them, we promise ourselves that we’ll get it next time, or we’ll smash it tomorrow.
I’m finding that the more I break promises to myself, the less those promises begin to mean in the first place. I set my alarm for 6:00am, knowing full well I won’t be out of bed until 7:15. I avoid making tomorrow’s lunch in the evening on the pretext of it being fresher in the morning, already planning what I will buy from the canteen instead. So this year, I decided to stop breaking promises to myself, and start eating my frog.
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
I feel compelled to tell you I don’t plan on eating any actual live frogs anytime soon. But I do plan on taking this sentiment and ensuring I start doing my worst tasks first. This way, any remaining time is free to do the things I actually want to do, without being tainted by that report looming on the horizon or the workout to get through before I can enjoy my ice cream.
Like so many things in this world, it’s very much easier said than done. So here are some tips I use to make sure my desk and my headspace are an amphibian free zone.
Tell yourself you’ll just do something.
I’ll just do the outline of my essay, I’ll just do some light cardio, I’ll just hoover one room. I often find that pretending I’ll make a small start or do one thing towards my goal leads me to doing a lot more. It’s often said that the hardest part of going for a run is putting on your trainers and I’ve really found this to be true. The task you’re avoiding probably isn’t as bad as you think, so once you get started you’ll end up doing more than you expected. I’ve lost count of the times when I tell myself I’ll just do the layout of a presentation to then find myself finishing the whole thing in one go.
Ask yourself what the alternative is.
What will you achieve by not doing this now? Chances are, it’s probably not a lot. Will your boss be impressed that you colour coordinated your folders today? Or will you wow them by finishing your killer presentation as well as making a start on tomorrow’s reports?
Visualise how happy you’ll be when it’s finished.
I’ve recently started taking a selfie of my disgusting, red, sweaty face after every gym session. These images don’t leave the confines of my phone, but I like being able to provide proof that I got up and did something other than laying on the sofa. So when I’m next avoiding getting my sweat on, I think about how accomplished I’ll feel when I can take that snap and how much more I can enjoy a big bowl of guilt-free, cheesy pasta.
Remember that all the while this dreaded task is looming over you, you aren’t really enjoying yourself.
Despite thinking that you’ll have more fun bingeing on a Netflix series than cleaning your apartment, you won’t be able to fully enjoy yourself because you’ll have the fact that you need to clean the apartment nagging away in a corner of your brain. The only way to fully let go is to clear those tasks from your schedule, leaving you free to slob out to your hearts content.
Hopefully, this has helped you to stop avoiding and start eating. Do you have any other tips for eating your frog? Are you inspired to try some of these? Let me know in the comments below!
Written as a response to The Daily Post