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Three good reasons to take that frog off your to-do list

3 Feb 2014 | Personal Productivity

‘Eat That Frog’ – do the hard thing first – can be a great way of getting momentum going, beating procrastination and clearing that scary thing off your plate as soon as possible.

But have you ever had a frog that lurks on your to-do list? You know you ‘should’ do it, but for some reason you never seem to manage it. It’s the first thing you see every day, you’re sick of the sight of it, but still you find yourself transferring it from one day to the next.

What if your frog isn’t a frog at all? What if it’s masquerading as a frog, and instead of getting your momentum going, it’s stealing your attention, looming over you and overshadowing everything else you do achieve?

When is a frog not a frog?

When it’s an elephant. Something that’s simply too big to be eaten in one sitting, let alone for breakfast. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time of course. Break it down. One of my clients got her tax return done last month by breaking it down into baby steps that started with “Get the file out…”

When it’s a time traveller. It doesn’t belong in this time. Yes you ‘could’ do it now, and there are lots of good, sensible reasons for getting it done early, but frankly if there isn’t a compelling enough reason that means something to you, you ain’t gonna do it now. So take it off your list. Put it back in its time. Put a reminder in the calendar to tackle it when the time is right.

When it’s not your frog.  Last week a friend saw something I shared on Facebook about ‘Eat That Frog’ and when we met she was delighted to tell me how she had crossed all the frogs off her list, except one. When we got talking about this particular one, she explained that it was quite a complex piece of work (elephant?), the client wouldn’t need it for a while (time traveller?) and she was waiting on the client to provide her with the information she needed to get started.

Aha! It was not her frog. It was her client’s frog. It didn’t belong on her to-do list because the next action wasn’t hers to do. I suggested she put it on her Waiting For list, so she could keep track of it, review it from time to time, and nudge her client when she needed to. Job done, a clear to-do list. Imagine the beam on her face.

What about you? Have you got any elephants, time travellers or other people’s frogs squatting on your to-do list? Is it eviction time?

Tell me what you think. Add a comment below and let me know if you have any pretend frogs lurking on your list!

PS. ‘Eat That Frog’ and the Waiting For List are just two of the many ninja tricks and techniques you can pick up to create zen-like calm and playful, productive momentum in the Stress Less Achieve More workshop. 


  1. naomirichards

    I have an elephant and working through it slowly. I was also writing about this very subject yesterday and about how overwhelming it can become when faced with a huge task.

    • Grace Marshall

      Definitely, we help our kids to break things down and take it a step at a time and that’s how they learn, develop and grow. Same thing goes for us adults too 🙂 Thanks for your comment Naomi, and enjoy snacking on your elephant!

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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