Frogs are big tasks you must do but keep putting off because reasons. The reasons are often not particularly good; resistance is primarily psychological. While you procrastinate, time passes, and the frogs swell, making them harder to swallow. The harder to swallow, the more you wait. Classic feedback loop ensues.
Completing your tax return is a frog. You have no choice but to do it, but it takes so long, and it’s so dull! It also reminds you that you tend to put such things off until the deadline looms. You usually think of yourself as a responsible person, but there it is, this damned frog.
So you block the afternoon to complete the tax return. But then, at lunchtime, an email arrives bearing another lovely frog. It’s not (yet) as large as the tax return, but it still croaks. That’s how I imagine them: sitting there next to each other, croaking. Croak, croak. A third frog soon joins the chorus and then a fourth.
Before you know it, you have a cacophony drowning out your other thoughts. Prioritizing becomes harder. Distracting notifications and email reminders pop up. Context-switching drains your cognitive resources. Another feedback loop: the more you have to do, the harder it becomes to get stuff done.
I heard that the way to deal with frogs was to buck up and swallow them, one at a time, starting with the biggest. I thought this was common knowledge, but I mentioned it to my kids, and they looked at me funny. Swallowing frogs?! Sounds unpleasant. Yes, it can be — but it doesn’t have to be.
How do you break the pattern? One trick that’s worked well for me is to change my physical context. I pack my laptop and any frog-related materials into my backpack and head to the public library or a coffee shop. When I get there, I turn on a focus mode and put on special frog-swallowing music. Then I get to work.
Rather than resist, celebrate. Make frog-swallowing a thing. It feels good when the frog is gone! This won’t be the last one; you’ll have lots of practice by the time your run here is done. For now, swallow this one as well as you can. Soon enough it’ll be off your plate.