Careful, don’t choke on that frog


Brian Tracy’s best selling book, “Eat That Frog,” champions the well-known productivity principle of doing the most important task of your day first.

Tracy says we should swallow the frog whole. As nasty as that might be, if you do the biggest, most difficult and most important task first, you will make great progress towards your goals, even if the rest of the day you don’t accomplish that much.

So if you’ve got a trial coming up next week, prepare for it this morning. If you’ve got a lot of research to do on a file, do it first thing. This makes sense, of course, because if you wait until later in the day or put it off for a few days, you might not have enough time to do them. You might not start, let along finish, your most important tasks.

But you need to be flexible. At least I do. Apparently, some scientific types agree.

I’ve written about this before. I said that much as I would like to, I’m usually not ready to eat that frog first thing. If something takes a lot of time and energy, I usually need to sneak up on it, especially since I’m not a morning person.

I usually get other things out of the way first.

I sort through my blog reader and save articles to read later. I check email, delete most of them, respond to short messages, and star those that require more time. I write my blog post. And take care of other reasonably short tasks that need to get done.

Then I’ve got the rest of the day to work on my big project.

When I was practicing, if I had court in the morning, that’s what I focused on. When I got back to the office, appointments were next. Once those were taken care of, I dove into the files on my desk. I would usually go through them from top to bottom. Dictate, make notes, review.

In the afternoon, my staff would have letters for me to sign and more documents to review and bless. And then I had more appointments. Somewhere in between all that, I was on the phone.

Most days, I got the most important tasks done, or made progress on them, and I got a lot of other things done, too. My desk was usually clean before I left for the day.

And the only tool or “system” I used was a calendar.

In fact, when I was practicing, I can’t recall ever looking for a better system. I was busy doing work.

Besides, before computers, there weren’t a lot of options for getting organized and being more productive, other than trying out a new calendar or paper planner.

When we started using computers, they helped with a lot of basic functions but didn’t give us the multitude of options (and complexities) we have today.

I’m not pining for simpler days. I love and use technology all day, every day. And it does make me more productive. The point is we all have to find what works best for us.

Some depend on a complex workflow and a panoply of tools. Others use little more than a calendar and eat frogs when they get around to it.

The last time I wrote about this, I said as much. Do what works for you and don’t worry about finding the perfect system. Eat that frog first, or save it for later, maybe with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Other than my calendar, Evernote is still my most valuable productivity tool