Productivity: Eating A Live Toad

All of us can become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of projects and tasks thrown our way. Sometimes, when staring at an inbox with 45 new messages and a blinking overdue task reminder, one can become paralyzed from not knowing where to begin. It's best to have a standing policy in times such as this to give you a quick answer to that question, so that when your brain is not at its best, you can still keep moving. My policy is "Start with the toad."

There's an old maxim that goes something like this: Eat a live toad first thing in the morning, and the rest of the day is a down-hill run. Colorful aphorisms aside, the sentiment is fairly clear. If you start by dealing with your least appetizing tasks, each subsequent task is easier than the last. You pick up momentum and find yourself breezing through what was before an insurmountable mound of drudgery. Once "the toad" is behind you, it really isn't so bad.

If you're wondering which of your tasks is the toad, it's the one that's been on your list for several days. It's the email you haven't opened because you know what unpleasantness lurks within. It's the item at the top of your "Must Do" list that you keep not doing. It probably requires you dealing with someone you don't enjoy working with, or using a skill you don't consider a strong point. Sometimes, it involves eating crow, or physically going somewhere inconvenient. It's usually not insurmountable. Just not what you would rather be doing. But you need to do it, and its presence on your "To Do" list makes it hard for you to move ahead.

So hold your nose, close your eyes, and get it over with. You know that once it's behind you, you'll feel kind of silly for procrastinating so long. And, from there, the rest of the day is a down-hill run.

Special Note: Works well with vegetables, too. I always knock those out first.