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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Eat the frog (or not)

A common dictum for starting the day is ‘to eat the frog‘, which denotes the idea that one should do the hardest, most challenging tasks of one’s life first before dealing with the rest. There are many benefits to this approach, namely the psychological edge that one gains by tackling and, in due course, completing the most tedious tasks on hand so that the rest comes easy. It is also advisable to do the hardest things early in the day when one’s energy and concentration levels are at their highest. The reverse scenario is certainly undesirable, namely doing all the easy, minion tasks then doing the really hard ones that one has been dreading all day long, which almost certainly has a negative psychological effect on one’s workflow.

While I share the general positive attitude towards the strategy of ‘eating the frog’, I have reservations about always trying to do the hardest, most mammoth tasks early in one’s workday. I have advocated an approach of starting slow at the beginning of one’s work process, since starting too fast can only do damage to one’s health and may even deny one from reaching one’s optimal efficiency (known as ‘Flow‘), and thus it is maybe undesirable to rush into one’s busy schedule by immediately taking on the hardest and biggest tasks in one’s life, which, far from encouraging you to keep going, may even deter you from getting started at all, since these tasks are like brick walls on a steep mountain which seem almost impossible to climb, let alone overcome. In my life, I have hence tried to use some easy tasks as part of my warm-up process for the rest of the day, which, apart from getting my engine heated and making sure that I am ready to go, can also motivate me to keep going until I hit the optimal efficiency I need in order to deal with the biggest and hardest things in my life. As before, I realise that I am presenting an unorthodox view here in terms of work flow and efficiency, and I certainly do not expect many (if any) people to agree with me, but I do have reasons for believing that the hardest, most challenging tasks can and should be reserved for the best part of one’s day, which need not be the start of the day when one is feeling most energetic and enthusiastic but later on in the day when one’s system has fully kicked in and ready to go. Come what may, the important thing is to get going. Don’t give up.

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