Eat the Frog: Better time management

Eat the Frog: Better time management

A new exciting contribution from the Career Bible:

Eating a frog to improve your own time management? Fortunately, not everything has to be taken literally. In fact, the Eat the Frog principle is now widely used in time management and enjoys great popularity. This is because it offers a remedy for a large and frequent problem: The distraction, postponement and ultimately doing nothing. I’ll do that later… I have other things to do… Something came up… The day is over, except for a few small things, nothing is done and stress and pressure continue to grow for the next few days. In order to escape this cycle, maybe only one thing helps: Eat the Frog…

What’s with the frog? And how is the amphibian related to time management? What may sound a bit confusing at first, has a very simple background and can also be implemented in the simple – at least theoretically. The Eat the Frog principle goes back to the American author and successful coach Brian Tracy, who even dedicated an entire book to his idea more than 15 years ago.

The whole thing has nothing to do with the animal, but only with the metaphor it contains. For most people, the idea of eating a frog is initially daunting. What is meant here is not a preparation that can be considered a delicacy, but simply a frog – slimy and hardly appetizing.

Tracy uses this frog as an image for a particularly unpleasant or difficult task. For example, it could be a conversation with the boss you are afraid of or a call to a customer you have to tell that the deadline cannot be met or that the first calculation will not work out and the price will be higher.

In short: Eat the Frog deals with all those tasks that you would rather not do – and which you keep putting off for precisely this reason. However, this is exactly the wrong approach, because it is better to eat the figurative frog first thing in the morning, because often the unpleasant tasks are also very important.

Eat the Frog first: Do the unpleasant things first

You postpone unpleasant or difficult to-dos, only take care of incidental tasks and devote yourself to those tasks that you enjoy or that require quick and great effort. It does not take much imagination to understand the direction in which this way of working and attitude is developing.

Of course you are busy and in the beginning you can handle it quite well, but it will not be long before the negative effects become noticeable: A huge mountain of tasks is getting bigger and bigger instead of being worked on, there is also time pressure on the back of your neck because you have wasted too much time in which you have chickened out and your motivation is also at rock bottom if you only think of the countless tiring tasks that have accumulated.

To help you keep your time management under control, Brian Tracy has a crucial tip: Eat the Frog first! In other words, the first thing you do and tackle in a day should be the worst, most difficult and most important task on your list.

This is seemingly simple advice, but it has many advantages if you manage to really take it to heart:

  • You have the necessary energy and time

    A task that is particularly laborious, costly, difficult and unpleasant to postpone to the afternoon or evening lacks any logic. Although it is understandable that you want to avoid it and push it away from you as far as possible, you are not doing yourself any favors.

    The longer the day, the less strength, energy and time you will have. And let’s face it: If you are exhausted, your concentration is dropping and the end of the day is already in sight, you will hardly be able to pull yourself together and finally tackle the project you don’t feel like doing.

  • You act according to priorities

    Dealing with all the small, pleasant and rather unimportant things makes sure that you have something to do – but this is of little use to you if your priorities are completely ignored. If you only deal with unimportant things, it is only a matter of time before problems arise because urgent and important matters have not received any attention.

  • You create something at all

    Unfortunately, everyone has experienced it at some time or another: you set yourself big goals, planned your whole day, wanted to be productive, and in the end you just ended up on the couch watching a season of your favorite show. But with Eat the Frog, you can be sure that you’ve done at least the most important thing.

    This way you prevent the mountain of unpleasant but important tasks from growing any further.

  • You feel better

    You may want to suppress the frog that is still coming towards you, but you still have it in mind. This can quickly affect your mood, as the thought of all the things that have been left lying around and unfinished can cause you a real stomach ache.

    However, if you follow the Eat the Frog rule, you are guaranteed to be in a better mood because you have cleared the biggest obstacle of the day early on and can be a little proud of yourself.

  • You set the direction for the day

    The good mood also has an additional effect on the rest of the day. Once you have the frog behind you, you can start the rest of the day motivated and committed. It won’t get any worse and the further tasks will seem like a piece of cake compared to what you have already done.

    This is how the Eat the Frog principle affects the time management of the whole day. Your brain and your entire way of thinking are fully focused on work because you have dealt with the frog, the most difficult task, and have adjusted to it. You will benefit from this in the coming hours and will be maximally motivated.

    This is all the more important because the opposite is also noticeable. So if you only do small things or distract yourself and devote your free time to them, your brain will switch off more and more and you will not be able to pull yourself together at all.

Eat the Frog: Tips for eating the frog

As simple and obvious as the entire concept of Eat the Frog is, many people find it difficult to put it into practice and, above all, to maintain it. It is too tempting to keep old habits and avoid the unpleasant and difficult instead of starting the day with it.

Above all, this requires a great deal of discipline and also the desire to really improve one’s time management. If your own will is missing, it will be all the more difficult for you to eat the proverbial frog and to fight your way through the thoroughly strenuous challenge in the morning.


To help you implement the Eat the Frog method, we have a few additional tips:

  • Recognize the frog

    Don’t be fooled and don’t tell yourself that you have already eaten the frog, when in truth you have only done some task. The frog is the one task for every day that is especially difficult and unpleasant for you. Sometimes there can be several difficult projects, but there is always the one frog that stands out.

    But there is a simple question that you can use to unmask the frog if you answer honestly: Which task would you most like to procrastinate on, deal with something else and move it? Whatever immediately comes to mind is exactly what Eat the Frog is all about.

  • Eat the frog in small portions

    The Eat the Frog is about getting the unpleasant task done first – not swallowing the frog in one piece. Maybe the task is simply too big and extensive to be completed within an hour. Sometimes it even takes until noon or longer.

    But that should not stop you. Just divide the frog into smaller portions and go about it piece by piece. The only thing that matters is that you keep going and make sure you finish the task before you turn your attention to something else.

  • Document your performance

    Discipline and motivation are important to realize Brian Tracy’s idea of Eat the Frog. You can help them a little bit by proving to yourself and others that you have really made it and mastered the most difficult task of the day. Tell colleagues, friends or even the boss.

    Even a short acknowledgement can be enough to motivate yourself anew for the next day and stay on the ball. In addition, you can make a list of all the frogs you want to face in the coming days and cross them out piece by piece. It’s incredibly good to see the list getting smaller.