Frog Too Big? Take Smaller Bites.

Good morning!  I hope your day is starting off nicely.

Do you ever look around your workspace and think, “One of these days I need to straighten this up?” It’s hard, especially when you work at home. My office is in the basement, and nobody ever comes down there. Last time the tornado sirens went off, my wife got to the top of the basement stairs, took one look down, and said, “Oh well – I’ve had a good run.”

A co-worker last week complimented me during a video meeting about the condition of my basement. Don’t underestimate the time it took to get the camera aimed at such a perfect angle. The room is cluttered, my desk is a mess, and the new flooring I started 12 years ago still isn’t finished because there’s too much junk still piled on top of the old floor.

Clutter doesn’t begin to describe this mess. I have pay stubs from 15 years ago and bills from 1971. They’re not even my bills, because I was in 7th grade back then. I won’t throw them away because we’re supposed to shred these things. I can’t shred them because the shredder would incinerate. The rest of the mess I blame on my daughters. Every time kids move out, more and more stuff gets left behind. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I once read a book by Alan Lakein titled “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life.” In the book, he suggested several strategies for optimizing our time. One was to handle each piece of paper only once. Pay the bill, write the response, whatever. Then throw it away. Sorry, but that’s handling it twice. I saved time and money by throwing all my mail in the trash. Voila!

Yes, I know. That’s not the exact message the book was trying to convey. The point was to avoid procrastination and just get it done. If you have to eat a frog, eat the biggest one first and the rest won’t seem so bad.

I think, for many of us, these tasks languish on the “to-do” list because that frog is just too big. So, break it up. You can accomplish a lot in fifteen minutes. Do that for a week, and you may be surprised at the results.

Time is a precious commodity, and we all have a lot on our plate. But nothing gets done if we just sit there and stare at it. Do something. Anything. Big jobs become smaller when we break them into bite-sized pieces. And just like that bag of bite-sized snacks, it’ll be finished before you know it. That’s all for now.  Have an awesome day!

© 2023 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Plug Your Nose and Dig In!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

In the movie Bad Boys, two high-action cops are chasing the bad guy down a runway in Miami as Marcus (Martin Lawrence) begins reciting the perpetrator’s rights.  “You have the right to remain silent – anything you say can and will be used against you …” Will Smith asks, “What are you doing?” Marcus, staring straight ahead, replies, “Just gettin’ it out the way.”

When I was young, Mom desperately wanted to get us to eat healthy foods. The problem for kids is that healthy foods generally taste like crap. Especially Brussels sprouts. We’d make faces, Mom would make threats, and eventually we’d compromise – just eat one. I’d dip mine in mashed potatoes to mask the flavor (it didn’t work) and swallow it whole. Anything to get it over with.

Even now, when my wife puts broccoli or cauliflower on my plate, I eat it first. That way I can enjoy every bite of the good stuff without ruining the savory goodness in my mouth with the pungent aroma of steamed vegetables. It’s simple. If you have to do something really unpleasant, get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

Or, as French writer Nicolas Chamfort once said, eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. That quote (often attributed to Mark Twain) has been enhanced over the years to suggest that, if you have to eat a bunch of frogs, you should eat the biggest one first. Uurrrp!

But the point is pretty clear – if you have to eat the frog anyway, get it over with and then you don’t have to dread it the rest of the day. Now, before I completely ruin your appetite, this isn’t about eating frogs (or Brussels sprouts). It’s about getting the unpleasant stuff out of the way so we can look forward to the good stuff. You know, like ice cream.

There are things I have to do every day at work that I’d gladly pay somebody else to do. Nothing as bad as eating a live frog, but just those tedious tasks that nobody really enjoys, and you wonder if it’s even adding any value at all. But the boss says it has to be done, so I get it done. Now. The earlier the better. Then I don’t have to think about it again until tomorrow.

In my own company, it’s pretty much the same. I have to contact a certain number of people every day if I want my business to grow. And I know that four out of five will tell me they’re just not interested. It’s my least favorite part of the business. I’d rather get another vasectomy. But the frog is sitting there, getting bigger by the day until I finally dig in and take that first unpleasant bite.

And you know what? Even after all those people give me a polite (or not-so-polite) “No,” I’m still breathing. In fact, I’m breathing a little easier because the worst thing they could say to me is over. I don’t have to dread it anymore. And I know the odds are increasingly in my favor that the next person I talk to will say yes.

It’s all about the law of averages. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Apply for enough jobs, and sooner or later you’ll score an interview. Score enough interviews, and sooner or later you’ll get a job. Do your job long enough, and sooner or later you’ll get really good at it. Even the parts you never really wanted to be good at.

But when you get good at the stuff nobody wants to do, two things happen. First, you don’t mind it so much. It’s a part of your day that you work through quickly and with little conflict. And once that’s behind you, you’re able to spend the rest of the day getting better at the stuff the boss really notices.

Unless you clean toilets for a living, your job likely involves a multitude of daily tasks that are a mix of mildly enjoyable to completely intolerable. And if toilets are your thing, clean the worst ones first. It won’t make your day go any faster, but at least it won’t smell quite as bad.

Dessert is the reward we get for eating the frog. If you have to eat it all anyway, get the hard part done first and save the best for last. You’ll be happier, and the rest of the meal will taste that much better. And if you just happen to develop a taste for frog in the process … well, there’s not much anybody can do to mess up your day.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved