Eat The Frog Time Management Technique: What does it mean, Why and How can you use it

Written by Domantas Vanagas

January 2, 2022

No one likes to get behind on the tasks they know they need to accomplish in their day, but at least a quarter of adults consider procrastination a personality trait they have. It is a lot easier to say that we are going to get everything done than it is to make the strides necessary to make that happen. As good as our intentions maybe when we first wake up, getting to the finish line and accomplishing what we set out to do is often harder. That is why some people rely on the eat the frog time management method to help them clear up the most pressing tasks to move down the line and get to the rest of their daily chores as time permits.

The most pressing tasks tend to be the ones that weigh on our minds most heavily, and clearing them up first helps save us from some of the stress that we would otherwise have. We want to explore precisely what the eat the frog” method is and why it matters that you use this method in your own life to get things done.


What Does Eat The Frog Even Mean?

It sounds gross, doesn’t it? Eat the frog? This is the term that people use to describe their method of time management, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense on the surface to someone who has never heard of this or has never practiced it before.

The idea comes from an old quote attributed to Mark Twain that goes like this: 

“If your job is to eat a frog, then it is best to do it first thing in the morning. If your job is to eat two frogs, then you should eat the bigger one first” 

The main idea that Twain was getting at here is that it is best to take care of unpleasant tasks as quickly as possible so that they are out of the way. No one wants to eat a frog.

So the best thing to do is to eliminate this unpleasant task by getting it out of the way and eating the frog first thing in the morning. Then the job is done, and you can move on to other things.

Of course, we are not referring to a literal frog when we say this, but rather to the idea that we should try to eliminate a task weighing us down and making us stressed out and unhappy. If we can do that, we can start clearing up our day with more pleasant activities. 

Of all the time management methods that exist, the “eat the frog” method helps move the most frustrating aspects out of your day first and foremost. This clears you up to tackle the smaller tasks or clear up more free time for yourself. 

At What Point Should You Start Using Eat The Frog Technique? 

One must decide when they are ready to join those using the eat-the-frog method. When you realize that you are ready to take action regarding the causes of poor time management, you are ready to take the plunge and take concrete steps to get this technique into your daily routine. Most people realize that they may need to use this technique when they feel pressure to complete certain tasks.

close up shot of a frog holding a guitar

If they cannot perform at a high level all the time, they may start to show signs of that strain very quickly. They feel the pressure immediately, which can risk them because they may drop the ball when getting everything done as they should have. It is easy to start to feel the pressure bearing down on you when this happens. That is when the eat-the-frog method comes in handy the most.

How Do You Start The Eat The Frog Technique?

To start the method, you will want to lay out all the tasks you need to accomplish in the immediate future. Take stock of where you stand now and what you need to accomplish to feel that you have had a successful day. Once you see these two things lined up side-by-side, you are more likely to get a sense of where your day is headed and how you can make the most of each moment of that day.

It would be best if you tried to understand that the eat-the-frog method will point you in the right direction in the sense that you will have the opportunity to start chugging away at the tasks that have been putting the most pressure on you and finally get them off the agenda.

Then, you can move on to those things you have meant to do for a long time. When viewed through this lens, it starts to make more sense how you can maintain your current business schedule and still get to where you need to go from a productivity standpoint. 

Imagine someone who needs to put together a major presentation for their boss. They feel the pressure as they know they need to create a PowerPoint, research, find relevant examples for the company they work for, and get overcome by fright about presenting to their co-workers. Although fear of public speaking could be one of the most depressing problems, you can only get past it with long-term experience. Having this in mind, working on the biggest frog (the research part) will give such a person a boost of motivation to keep going forward.

Once they put this behind them, it becomes more reasonable to take care of the rest of the tasks at hand and get that presentation ready for showtime. The time-saving benefits that come with this method also make it easier to put together a presentation with more quality work.

Why Does Eat The Frog Time Management Technique Work?

Most of the reason why this technique works so well boils down to human psychology. Human beings are designed to look at the first and last items on a to-do list and prioritize those items above others. This is true even if those items are not the ones that will make the most impact on one’s day. It is a quirk of human psychology that we work that way, but it is true repeatedly. 

When we choose to internet the tasks we most dread at the top of our list, we naturally want to knock those items off before moving on to other things. Thus, this method helps us use our psychology in our favor to get the results we need from it. We can start seeing results immediately as we want to eliminate that first to-do list item. 

Another supporting factor why this method is so effective is because it provides a natural boost to the person who does it successfully.

woman shouting go to motivate you work from home

Eating the frog first thing in the morning makes you feel accomplished for the rest of your day. You will know that you set out to do something and made it happen. It is an incredible feeling, and it is something that we don’t always get from everything that we do.

We know that humans respond to rewards, and one of the best rewards we can get is knowing that the work we have put into something has not been in vain. When we knock out something that has been bothering us first thing in the morning, we set ourselves up for the rest of our day. 

Those who don’t use this method have to stress over those nagging tasks that they did not get done earlier in the day. It zaps their energy and even takes away from the enjoyment of their “free time” as they spend so much of it thinking about the tasks they should have already accomplished. Instead of putting yourself in that hot seat, why not consider using your time to accomplish some things?

That is what the eat the frog people do, and they love the results they get from it. 

Who Should Use Eat The Frog Technique?

This time management and productivity method are not limited to one group of individuals who may benefit from it more than others. Anyone with several responsibilities should seriously consider getting on board with this method.


Think about the leader of a business or perhaps a busy mom trying to juggle the schedules of all of her children. These are two very different individuals (in all likelihood), but that doesn’t mean that they can’t both benefit. Both have similar schedule requirements to accomplish their missions. The mom needs to keep a complex schedule of events together, and the business leader must also understand the importance of prioritizing some of the most burdensome tasks first. Both people have many others counting on them to get it all done. 

Anyone who feels they are not accomplishing enough because they get swamped by their daily tasks should feel like they have a right to try these methods. They are not reserved for any special class of people; everyone likes it when their day is just a little more productive. 

Groups of people who have found the eat-the-frog method to be most useful include: college students, business managers, religious leaders, artists, designers, freelancers, and overworked parents.

All these types of people have in common that a lot is expected of them, and they are to fulfill their tasks if they want to move on to whatever enjoyment they can find for the remainder of their day. It is not easy being in the shoes of any of these groups of people, but at least they have a method that they can use to try to control some of the chaos that could otherwise take over everything that they do. 

What Are The Benefits of The Eat The Frog Technique?

People often want to know why they should use this method with the funny frog name to sort out their day compared to other methods. It is a fair and valid question, and it is why you should know about some of the major benefits this specific method can bring to the table. If you know this method’s upsides, you won’t want to let it go. 

  • Prioritizing Is Easier – You can more clearly see where your values are based on which tasks you prioritize and which are allowed to fall further down your list. You might gain some insights into who you are as a person. After all, you can see where you want to put your time and energy when it is all laid out on the table. 

woman setting her milestone with an arrow hitting a target

  • More Time For Fun Tasks – You don’t have to rush through your more enjoyable tasks if you have already taken care of the more stressful ones at the beginning of your day. This means you can stop and savor them a bit more. 

  • Near Instant Results – The results from using this method are practically instant. They have to be because you are putting into motion a plan that will create the most impact on you right from the start. 

7 Tips For Using Eat The Frog Method

Tip 1: Eat The Ugliest or Biggest Frog First

This means that you must take out the assignment you know in your heart is the least desirable.

“If you have to choose between two frogs to eat, you should always eat the ugliest one first.”

For example, if you need to pay for a speeding ticket and get a haircut, you should pay the speeding ticket first. Both will take time and cost you money, but the speedy ticket provides no clear benefit to you and is, therefore, the uglier frog.

Tip 2: Don’t Waste Time Doing Something Perfectly 

Sometimes, doing something good enough is all that you need to do to accomplish your goals. It would be best if you didn’t put much effort into a project you may not need to do.

That is a wasted effort, and it isn’t appreciated anyway. Besides, this is an additional effort you could put toward eliminating an ugly thing from your to-do list. 

Tip 3: Continue To Learn From Your Triumphs And Mistakes

The eat-the-frog method is a great way to learn from your successes and failures. As the results start to roll in from this technique, you can see where you have done well for yourself and where there is room for improvement.

mental wellness

If you see that you continue to make some of the same mistakes repeatedly, then perhaps it is time to learn from those errors and correct them.

Likewise, it would be best if you also tried to pick up on some of the things you have done well and try to duplicate that success again in the future, so you don’t leave out any opportunity to continue to grow as a person. 

Tip 4: Bring Others Into The Practice

Most of us stick to our goals better when we have others to hold us accountable. For example, it is much easier to train for a 5k run if you have a partner who will run with you daily.

The same can be said for practicing good time management as well. Get someone else who loves it as much as you do, and you will be in good shape. 

Tip 5: Don’t Deviate From The Plan 


Getting distracted and wanting to knock out a smaller task are natural urges, but you must resist them as much as possible, especially if the task isn’t so-called ugly. You cannot be successful with the eat the frog plan if you are not truly practicing it.

When you feel you are struggling to stay on task with this plan, try to read about others, who have also worked on this plan to get some motivation to continue. 

Tip 6: Read About Others Who Use The Same Plan 

To stay inspired by this productivity method, you should read about others doing the same. There are several books, but you may find utility in the countless Internet blogs and social media accounts about the topic. Reading what others say about this method may help you stay on track. 

Tip 7: Stick To The Routine Every Day

This is a lifestyle choice you make for the rest of your life. You should practice this method every day and try to hold yourself accountable.

If you make some mistakes, that is okay but don’t convince yourself that you can let things slide too much. You have responsibilities you should handle, which is a daily practice.

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