When to Swallow Your Daily Frog

When is the best time to do that task we don't want to do? Turns out, it's first thing in the morning.

If you know you have to swallow a frog, swallow it first thing in the morning. If there are two frogs, swallow the big one first. – Mark Twain

You know how it goes. You wake up in the morning, and there it is. Ribbit!

You pour your morning coffee, and there it is looking at you. Ribbit!

As you’re working and glance at the clock, there it is looking back at you. Ribbit!

It’s that task or project that you don’t want to do. You know you’ve got to do it, but instead you put it off. Maybe you’ll feel like doing it later. You won’t.

You’re never going to want to call the IRS. You’re never going to want to snake the hair out of the shower drain. That hard conversation will never be on your “Things I Want To Do Today” list.

Swallowing your daily frog first thing in the morning assures you that, if nothing else, you complete that one thing for the day. Leaving it hanging there may make it such that you don’t get anything else done from worrying about it.

There’s also this: getting those things done first thing in the morning often provides additional motivation to complete a lot of other things that day.

After all, if you’ve already swallowed a couple of frogs, can the day really get any worse?

But wait — what about the whole “plan your day by your productive capacity” bit?

(Psst: if you haven’t heard me talk about this, then you might want to check out our post about how to be more productive using time blocking.) 

Generally, having those things that you want to do hanging over you ensures that you won’t be at your productive peak due to distraction. Remember, decreasing distractions and increasing motivation makes you more productive.

For those frogs that really can’t be done first thing in the morning — either because of the context or availability of other people or your energy — you’ll want to do them as soon as you can. While it’s true that first things first isn’t about sequence, it’s still true that a frog will sit on the log that is your brain until it’s handled. As long as it’s there, it’ll make everything else that much harder to finish.

While we’re on frogs, a frog a day keeps your anchors aweigh better than letting them build up. Because if one frog harasses you enough to want to put it off, an entire day of frog-handling is something you’ll put off even more.

Get after that daily frog — you’ve got this!

Originally published at

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