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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
Today, I’m sharing a SUPER simple productivity hack that has helped me stop procrastinating, get more work done, and also find a lot more joy in the work that I’m doing. Are you ready? It’s something that is ridiculously simple but also ridiculously effective.
The productivity hack? Eat the teddy bear, not the frog.
For some context, there’s a super popular productivity method called Eat the Frog. It’s a book and a concept by Brian Tracy where in order to maximize your productivity, you pick a frog every day on your to-do list and your frog is the task that is the most important to get done. It’s also usually the most complicated task, the most time consuming, and often the task you want to procrastinate the most.
So basically, to eat the frog, you identify the MOST important task you need to get done for the day, and then you do that task as the very first thing you do in the morning. You wake up, do your morning routine, and when you start work, you eat your frog.
Pretty simple right? And this productivity method has a LOT of benefits. It helps you focus on the most important things in your business (so that you’re actually getting them done) and it’s great if you get distracted or you often have other things come up later in the day. There’s something really empowering about getting the hardest thing done first thing in the morning and it’s a great way to get in the zone first thing so the rest of the day feels like a reward.
That being said – there are also a lot of downsides to this productivity method! I went through a phase in my life and business where I was really forcing myself to eat the frog every day, and for me it’s not something that really worked in my business.
First of all, I would waste a bunch of time trying to pick the perfect task that should be the “frog”. And I even went through a period of time where I bought these really cute frog stickers and I would make my to-do list and then I would go back through my to-do list and I would put a frog sticker next to whatever the task was. That way, I had already identified the frog that I was supposed to do first thing in the morning.
The reason this didn’t really work for me is not only did I feel pressure to pick the “right” first task, because it was often the most complicated, I ended up just procrastinating starting work AT ALL.
So I would wake up in the morning, I would make a cup of coffee, and then for a while there was a weird period of time where I had some anxiety about opening my computer or about going and sitting at my desk. And I think it’s because I knew once I sat down at my desk, I had to do the most terrible thing on my to-do list.
So personally “eating the frog” is not something that worked for me, and it led to MORE procrastination (and frustration), not less. I never felt like I was working hard enough in my business.
So instead, I switched to eating the teddy bear. Eating the teddy bear is the exact opposite of eating the frog. So instead of identifying a really important, challenging task, you identify a ridiculously easy task. I’m talking so easy that it’s almost impossible for you not to accomplish it.
Here are some examples of things I use as teddy bears:
These are all things that I would probably do no matter what, but I put them at the very top of my to-do list. I actually write them down and this way, instead of sitting down and seeing this terrible frog, there’s a task at the top of my to-do list that I’ve likely already done OR is very easy for me to go in and accomplish.
For me, this has had a profound impact on my productivity. It helps me ease into the rest of my workday and honestly there’s just something very magical about sitting down, being able to check something off and your brain wants to do more of that. Plus, when I feel good about myself, I have a much better and a more productive rest of my work day.
I know it’s ridiculously simple, but it’s something I highly recommend. Identify your teddy bear, put it at the top of your list, and check it off your list as you start your workday.
Another little bonus productivity hack: if you have trouble identifying your teddy bear, you can also just give yourself a free space. Sometimes I will literally write at the top of my to-do list, the word “free space”. Sometimes, I’ll even have a free space around lunchtime as well, because every once in a while in my business, I will have a very productive morning. Then, I will go and eat lunch, and when I come back and don’t want to dive back into work, it’s nice to have a free space waiting for me.
The next time you’re creating your to do list, I highly recommend giving this a try!
This is also a really good productivity hack to use for things outside of work as well. So if you need to clean something for example, or do anything that feels a little overwhelming, you can start with your teddy bear. So if you need to deep clean your kitchen, you can have the first thing be “turn on music” or “walk into the kitchen” or just give yourself a free space. It really does make it so much easier and much less overwhelming to accomplish larger tasks when you start with something that feels really small and manageable.
I wanted to keep this episode super short and actionable (we are talking about productivity, after all!), and if you give this a try, I would love to hear how eating your own teddy bear goes. Send me a message on Instagram and let me know how it goes! It’s something so simple, but it really is something that has really added a lot of ease into my own life and business!
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