Celebrate Leap Year: Eat the Frog

Happy Leap Year! (Fun fact: people born on Leap Day are called Leaplings. We don’t have a Leapling working at Tribal Health but our CEO Morgan Haynes was hired on Leap Day 2016!)

The symbol of Leap Day is a frog, which makes this month the perfect time to revisit Mark Twain’s sage advice: “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 eattwo frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”***

Today this has become business lore as a cure for procrastination – essentially, find your toughest task and do it first thing in the day. We all have long to-do lists and it’s easy to kick the can down the road as we gravitate toward our more comfortable action items. To eat your frog – and spend your day with more purpose and focus – try following this 3 step process.

Eating the Frog

#1. Identify your frog.

This is the task you’re dreading – the phone call you don’t want to make, the staffing issue you’d prefer to ignore.

#2. Eat it!
Get it done right as you start your day, no excuses, so you can be more focused going forward.


#3. Eat the frog every day.
Doing this every day creates good work habits – but it also means that eventually, most of your frogs will be easier to eat.

“But I have an entire pond of frogs!” you might be saying. Most healthcare workers feel pulled in a million directions, after all, and can’t always predict what their toughest part of the day will be. If that’s you, limit your daily frogs to one or two and don’t try to schedule them weeks in advance. Select your frog the night before to make sure it is fresh and relevant.

Why eating the frog is so helpful

Dreading a task exacts a toll on our energy. Getting it out of the way frees up our energies and helps us focus on the next tasks instead of brooding over what’s waiting for us. Taking care of a steady parade of minor jobs – like answering a text or prepping for a meeting – can distract us and eat up so much mental energy that by the end of a tiring day, we’re just too worn out for that big ugly action we need to take. Once again, we push it to the next day. And many of us overestimate what we can get done in a day, loading up task management tools with unrealistic lists that later erroneously suggest we’re falling behind.

Eating the frog keeps us on track and true to our goals, even when the day piles other people’s requests on top of us. We make progress on something meaningful every day, starting with a win that builds a momentum and confidence we bring to our next projects.

What frog will you eat tomorrow?


*** Chances are, Mark Twain didn’t actually say this. But it’s still good advice.

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