And my problem?
I can’t decide which one to eat first.
The mud room organization?
Unpacking the boxes in the corner of the living room?
The basic laundry pile?
Where to begin?
What in the World is Eating Your Frog?
When I began the day yesterday by saying to my kids, “Well, I’m off to go eat my frog!” you should have seen the look on my 6-year-old’s face! Oy! Priceless.
I explained: “Eating Your Frog just means doing the hardest thing on your to-do list first. If you get the least favorite task out of the way, the rest of your day runs smoother.”
For me, yesterday, I decided that starting laundry was important to do right away, and organizing the mud room (it’s really a mud “area” but why split semantic hairs?) was something that would make me feel good once accomplished. Besides that, we could walk through the area.
I got the laundry started, and then Jonathan woke up. Then breakfast needed to be served. Then I had to clean up the table/kitchen after breakfast. Then I had to complete my online frog: writing yesterday’s back to basics Monday Mission. That, at least, I accomplished, although it took a couple tries.
I was excited to have this goal in mind for my work at the computer, because although I’ve always been a list person and organized in one sense, I’m also notorious for backwards prioritization and not sticking to the list very well.
Where Did All These Frogs Come From?
Before I get too much further and step into the bloga-confessional, let me explain the impetus behind all this frogging.
I’m reading Tsh Oxenreider’s eBook One Bite at a Time, which includes 52 steps to simplifying your life. Gals (and guys? Maybe?) are chatting about it on the KS Facebook page, where I’ll remind of the week’s goal each Monday and share my progress during the week and at least on Fridays.
Not on Facebook? You can still view everything going on just by going here – I have a new “welcome page”, but you can still see the updates by clicking “Wall” on the far left. Just pop in on Monday and Friday to keep up on the conversation!
So far, my simplifying has merely overrun my house with frogs. But I’m sure it will be a good thing in the long run!
How did I Do?
Well, I’m sad to announce that when I asked my husband what he thought my “frog” should be for today, he gestured toward the mess in the mud area and said, “Uh, that would be good, and how about unpacking one box?”
In my own defense, the mud area frog didn’t get consumed yesterday because the contents of my entire van were deposited there, compounding the situation. I spent about 5 minutes clearing the shoe clutter in the morning like I was supposed to and set my timer for 10 minutes in the late afternoon and did what I could. Which brings us to…
What About Failure?
Let’s not think too much about failure, per se, but if at the midpoint of your day, you have some uneaten frogs sitting around, be sure to remind yourself that when one does not eat one’s main course, one cannot have dessert.
(In other words, Eat the Frog before you play.)
If by some mishap you have uneaten bits of frog lying around your house at the end of the day, I recommend a three-pronged attack:
- Evaluate why the frog didn’t get eaten (troubleshoot for the next time).
- Count the important things you surely did instead: don’t forget that you probably feed your family three meals a day, most likely played with your kids (if you have kids) at least a few minutes, and perhaps even cleaned up something or helped with homework.In my case, I gave my son a haircut, went shopping with my mother who was visiting from 5 hours away, wrote morning chore lists for the kids, made dinner, packed a lunch, stored crispy sunflower seeds, nursed a baby…
- Put the frog in the refrigerator for tomorrow, and be sure to eat it first.
You might also take a page from Flylady‘s book and set a timer for 15 minutes. My mom, observing the disarray in my life and my lack of schedule since moving, living in a temporary situation, and having a baby, actually got me a timer for Christmas. I asked her if it came with a daily accountability phone call.
The idea from Flylady is that “you can do anything for 15 minutes.” Tsh might add, “Even eating a frog.”
So you set your timer for 15 minutes and embark on your task. Even if you’re not finished when it beeps, you do something else, maybe playing with your kids (set a timer for that, too), maybe a regular maintenance task, maybe sitting down with a cup of tea and a book (or blog). The timer helps you to focus entirely on the task at hand and work efficiently, knowing that you’ll only be doing it for 15 minutes.
Choosing the Frog
If I leave you with one piece of advice about the whole frogetarian diet we’re embarking upon, it’s this:
Choose your Frog before you go to bed
You will be able to truly hit the ground running if you know your first task of the day. I also recommend NOT considering your frog while you’re trying to go to sleep, because you might experience either (1) nightmares about your to-do list, (2) nightmares about frogs all over your house, or (3) falling asleep before you decide on your frog. Which brings me back to the…
Frogs All Over My House!
I can’t believe how many tasks pop into my head each time I consider what one frog I’m going to tackle for a day. I think I need to just get over that “choice paralysis” and pick one and make sure I do it first.
For some on Facebook, exercise was their nemesis. For others, a certain cleaning task. For many, we should prioritize prayer first, but I have to admit that’s not my frog. I’ve never been good at praying in the morning, because I fall back asleep! God and I will have to work out another time…
I struggle with wondering whether I should choose a BIG frog or a little frog. My big frog might be organizing all the kids’ clothing in the house, which is in wild disarray after being separated from most of our worldly possessions for 5 months while children grew out of things and changed seasons and I didn’t have a system for where to put them. I don’t want to make that my frog because I fear failure!
A little frog would be unpacking one box, but then I might not feel accomplished enough and would put 1000 other things on my to-do list anyway. You see, this is why I need Tsh’s book (One Bite at a Time)!
I also have frogs coming out of my ears when I sit down at the computer, and I let them win yesterday.
I mentioned the bloga-confessional, so here goes:
I am a terrible procrastinator.
This is my habit when I sit down to work online: I typically have a to-do list of important tasks to accomplish, always far more than I can get done in a sitting. I prioritize them with little numbers. “Write tomorrow’s post” is on the list 95% of the time, and it usually should have a high ranking because clearly, that is “due” the next morning.
Watch this backward thinking: do I begin with number one? Rarely.
I get sucked into checking social media like Facebook and Twitter. I see if anything interesting has happened on the blog stats that day. I peek into my email hoping something exciting will come through that can justify me being distracted from my numbered list.
I might even read a few articles or blog posts online that catch my eye, thinking I “deserve” a moment to read after a long day being a mom.
When I finally get down to work, it feels almost like an addiction that I leave my post, usually the one thing that has a “deadline”, until last.
Why so backward? I think that if I end up going to bed without writing my post, I’ll be forced to complete that in the morning, whereas if I have other nonessentials to work on, I won’t (1) be motivated to get up early or (2) be able to justify plunking the 3-year-old in front of the television while I work.
Because of course, if I don’t post on a given day according to my personal editorial calendar, the world will end. Readers will flock away, I’ll get behind, and thoughts that must be shared will be lost forever.
Uh huh. Right.
So on day one of “Eat Your Frog” I thought, “Yes! I’m finally going to sit down and write this post first thing after dinner (Monday is my “work night”). Then I’ll get that email to cloth diaper companies asking for review samples written – the one I’ve been saying was top priority for about a month. This is going to be great!”
Guess what I’m doing right now?
Sitting at 10:30 a.m., writing my post, with the 3-year-old enjoying her 30 minutes of TV and the baby napping. The mud room looks like it did last night (but I did play house for 20 minutes already in a bedroom with pink carpet AND put away the clean dishes, so that was important!).
I need to get better at Eating My Frog.
Feel free to tweet at me at any time to ask if I’ve done it. That might help this poor hopeless procrastinator get her game on for the New Year!
Kids and Frogs
Yesterday on Facebook, a KS reader asked a wise question about kids, and I wanted to address the “life of a mom interrupted” concept for a minute.
Your kids might be the reason you have uneaten frog portions lying around your house. I’d certainly like to blame mine, even though it’s often my fault!
First, sometimes kids interrupt your work. See that section about failure above and move on. It’s going to happen.
Second, kids can eat their frogs, too. Yesterday before we played or ate breakfast, I made my kids sweep the floor. Somehow it was more palatable when it was “eating a frog” rather than “doing a chore.” Go figure.
They also received a timer for Christmas from my mother, who clearly knew we needed reform. !! Setting their own timer for work or play time in incredibly motivating. I like that they understand when I say, “I’m setting my timer for 15 minutes to do some work, and when it beeps, we will set it for 15 minutes to play.” Both the work and the play are better because expectations are clear.
I’m excited about getting the concept of “work before play” ingrained into their beings so they can have good habits for life, and not backward thinking like their poor mother! I’m also plotting to apply this to conversations about food. Instead of a simple “yes” or “no” to the question of “May I have a dessert?” I’m going to make dinnertime a more teachable moment and discuss “growing foods” vs. “fun foods” and why we eat certain things before the fun foods. (Terms borrowed from Dr. Sears.) My older child had that training when he was young, but I think the 3-year-old has missed out in the craziness of our last year.
What are YOUR Stumbling Blocks?
Now that you know much more than you need to about the simultaneous messes inside my head and around my frog-covered house, I’m curious to hear what prevents you from cleaning your plate when your Daily Frog is served.
What makes “Eating Your Frog” so difficult? What makes it worth it? And what’s your frog, anyway?
UPDATE: This is funny – I just saw a tweet that the book Eat That Frog is 99 cents today only for Kindle! I wish I had a Kindle…
Note: We’ll be talking about the rest of Tsh’s book, one week at a time, for the remainder of 2012. I won’t be posting full out on the blog after this unless something connects back into what we’re working on at KS anyway, but I just had to gab about this frog thing. Maybe it will help keep me accountable.
Disclosure: I do earn affiliate commission from sales of One Bite, but I really, really, needed to go through it and knew I wouldn’t without you guys. And now you know it, too, with all my weaknesses revealed! See my full disclosure statement here.