On Eating Frogs and Climbing Hills

Prioritizing the Unglamorous to Preserve Willpower

Learn to prioritize unglamorous tasks, manage stress, and enhance productivity.
Harvey A. Ramer
Harvey A. Ramer
2 min read (452 words)

About the Author: Harvey A. Ramer has over two decades of experience as a software engineer. He helps business owners reach people seeking their expertise through search engine results. Harvey enjoys translating complex digital concepts into simple ideas for nontechnical business people. For SEO help, please reach out.

Several years ago, I read a delightful book called Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy. The book’s premise is simple. Since we lose willpower throughout the day, it is best to do the hard things first. Hopefully, you never have to eat an actual frog. But if a frog is on the menu, eat it first thing in the morning.

Expert Procrastinators Beware

Recently, my team asked me to take on a task I felt was a time-waster. Dreading the chore, I put it off as long as I could. When I started just two days before it was due, I realized I had made a mistake. The job was bigger than I anticipated. It took time to familiarize myself with the problem and possible solutions. Ultimately, I let down my team. I made them wait as I worked into the evening, and I sacrificed family time because I let work get out of bounds.

You may be an expert procrastinator, and perhaps you get better results than me. But I warn you against it. Dilly-dallying usually produces more negative than positive results. Working under intense pressure creates stress that inhibits creativity, but outstanding work demands creative solutions. My work suffers, and self-doubt creeps in; soon, a cycle of defeated thinking takes root. I start to doubt my competence.

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”

—Dale Carnegie

Coast Late in the Day

Nothing boosts confidence like using willpower when your energy is at its peak. I grew up in Canada, and my walk to school was sometimes challenging. On snowy winter days with biting cold, I faced a one-and-a-half mile walk with three steep hills. To my small eyes, they stretched on forever. When I finally arrived at school, I felt like I had accomplished something. After school, the return trip was a breeze. I had to climb only one steep hill, and I coasted the rest of the way home.

Whether climbing a hill or eating a frog, you will never regret taking on a crucial challenge when your energy is at its peak.

Stress Can Show You the Way

This week, take note of your stress. Is there one difficult or fear-inducing thing standing between you and stress relief? Maybe it is an emotional conversation in which you set boundaries with a friend or family member. Perhaps your house, office shelves, or desk is a cluttered mess.

That thing in your way is your very own hill to climb. This week, set aside time to start climbing. Then, follow through. Keep your word to yourself, and watch the stress melt away.

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