Want to be more productive? Eat the Frog

I’m sure you’ve had this experience: you know you need to do something but you just can’t muster the energy to do it?

Maybe it was working out this morning, making a phone call to a company to resolve a billing issue, choosing salad instead of fries. Or maybe it was finishing that work project that only has a few more details but it feels like pulling teeth to sit down and complete them.

Well, that’s how I’m feeling right now.

I just don’t want to write. I want to do something else. I can feel my forehead all scrunched up; in fact I can feel wrinkles forming deep crevices in my brow. My mind is distracted; it’s telling me I should do all kinds of other things, ANYTHING but writing.

It’s strange to me, because in all actuality I love to write. But writers block can be vicious. There are times where everything flows and writing is a lovely, happy experience.  And then there are days like today.

So as I sit here, having an epic battle in my brain about writing this post, I am reminded of the phrase “Eat the Frog.”

Not the most visually appealing phrase, but there’s some real value there.

Now, I’m not talking literally eating a frog. What I mean is choosing the most difficult, yucky, and figuratively painful task to do first (swallowing your frog). Then it’s easy sailing for the rest of the day. Because really, how much worse can your day get if you start out eating a frog!

A year or so ago I read an awesome article by Dale Partridge about productivity. I love his recommendation to start your day with the most challenging task and reward yourself afterward. He rewards himself with breakfast, but I think a coffee or perhaps chocolate would work well too!

Being successful at eating your frog also works well when you have a defined timeframe. The Pomodoro Technique uses a schedule of focused work periods with brief breaks (for example: 25 minutes with a 5 minute break). These short bursts of working will help you focus your attention and eliminate distractions. The creator of the Pomodoro Technique even developed a tomato shaped timer just for these intervals – so cute!

Now that you have your timer going, and DING, it is break time, how do you use that refreshing 5 minute break? By stretching and moving your body!  It doesn’t necessarily help you get the task done, but helps you shake out your body to then sit back and focus.  Try doing a few burpees or a cycle of yoga sun salutations.  Although, I have to admit, dancing to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off video works well too. Find what works for you and get the blood flowing.

Now, I was honest and shared what my frog was today.  What have you been putting off and avoiding because it’s too _______ (enter your description of a miserable experience here)?

Need a pep talk?  Here you go….

Go Eat That Frog!

Set a time frame for focused attention.

Shake and move your body.

Reward yourself with a treat.

Coast through the rest of your day!

Whew! Now that I’m done swallowing my frog for today, I’m off to enjoy the sunshine outside!


Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.