Have you eaten your frog today?
If you're anything like me, you are live and die by your to-do list. I have a notebook in which I write each day's list, including freelance assignments, household things i need to do, phone calls to make, etc. and then I cross each item off as I achieve it. I write the items in no particular order, just as they come to me. But let's take a closer look at the anatomy of a to-do list and then we can get to the matter of eating your frog. (Don't worry -- I'll explain).
On each day's list, there will almost invariably be a mixture of tasks. You'll have the daily must-dos, the things that are not negotiable. This will be things like your daily freelance work (if you're a WAHM like me), driving the kids to their after-school activities, preparing dinner, helping kids with homework, etc. There will be the things you want to get done, but that are not strictly necessary for that particular day, such as doing laundry (it will still be there tomorrow if you run out of time) getting groceries (you can eat pancakes for dinner if you don't get there today) writing a blog post (your readers can survive one day without you) etc. These things have to get done eventually and in the near future, but not necessarily today. Then there are the things that you simply want to do, but that don't necessarily have to be done at all. This includes catching up on your PVRed shows, going out for lunch with a friend, creating a special dessert for after dinner, sitting in the backyard reading a magazine, etc. They are things that are simply for pleasure, not with any urgency.
Now, when you look at your to-do list each day, how do you prioritize what to do first? There are the things that have to be done on a schedule (deadlines, kids' activities, etc.) so those almost always get done. From there, the world is your oyster. There are going to be days when you are on fire and you get the entire list done, from washing the dishes to finding time to put your feet up. There are other days when you are only going to have to focus on the things that have to get done.
This is where eating your frog comes in.
When you look at the list of things your must-do-today list, there will almost certainly be some items that you want to do more than others. Most bloggers, for example, would prefer to write a blog post over cleaning the bathroom. However, if you use the strategy of doing the the thing you want to do the most first, you will spend the whole day dreading that thing you don't want to do, and you'll put it off. It will be like a nagging voice in the back of your head all day. Instead, try this: Eat your frog. Do the the thing you want to do the least, first. That way, you can get it out of the way, cross it off your list, and feel accomplished. Then you can move down your list and when you finally get to the thing you want to do, you can truly relax and enjoy it. That's way better, right?
What if your list doesn't have anything on it you want to do? It's true -- there will be days when your whole list is full of the kinds of tasks we have to force ourselves to do. In a case like that, prioritize by most dreaded to least dreaded and then add on something fun to the end of your list. Once you've eaten your frog and made your way through your list, you get the reward.
So, the next time with a seemingly endless to-do list, take the time to prioritize it and remember:
EAT YOUR FROG!!
You'll be amazed at how much more motivated you are once that one dreaded task is out of the way.