This is my third post in a series in which I will show you how to maximize productivity by combining GTD with other powerful time management techniques. The other posts in this series are listed at the end of this entry.

Today’s tip for maximizing productivity is borrowed from one of my favorite authors (Brian Tracy) and involves having something very interesting for breakfast: a frog! ;)

“Eat that frog” is synonymous with doing the hardest, most important task of the day first, before anything else!

I will show you how to wash down that tasty frog with a cup of GTD.

Eating your ugliest frog each and every morning is discussed in several works by Brian Tracy, most notably in his book “Eat that frog!” (aff).

The phrase itself is borrowed from two quotes from Mark Twain:
- “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful.”
- “If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.”

Your frog for today – looking all ugly and nasty on your plate – is the most important, most challenging, the biggest and hardest task you could possibly do. Now imagine finishing that task early in the morning, before you do anything else. Don’t think about it twice, just start working on it and don’t stop until it is finished. It will give you a great sense of accomplishment for the rest of the day and if you keep this momentum going you will have a very productive day.

Also, always focusing on finishing your most important task first will make the greatest difference in your personal and professional life. It requires relentless self-discipline and proper preparation, because – surprise, surprise! – this kind of task is exactly the one you are most likely to procrastinate on!

So, how do you go about determining the biggest, ugliest frog in the pond?
Looking at your todo list (or your next action list, if you’re a true GTDer) you need to select the task that has the highest priority to you. This is very personal. Don’t confuse highest priority with most urgent. In a recent post (Maximize Productivity #2: Forced Efficiency) I have written about combining the principles of GTD with the law of forced efficiency, which basically entails answering four important questions to yourself in order to determine your most important task. Go ahead and read that post now if you want… I’ll wait.

What is the best way to eat that frog?
- Select your most important task in advance. Prepare your (home) office at the end of the previous work day.
- Always choose the biggest and ugliest frog; the other frogs can wait.
- Start eating that frog as the very first thing you do in the morning.
- Don’t play with your food and don’t stop eating until you have a clean plate.
- Reward yourself after successfully swallowing that nasty creature.
- Hold on to the excellent momentum you’ve created by eating the next frog.

Can I please have a glass of GTD to wash down my frog?
The concept of doing your most important task as the very first thing you do each morning, integrates seemlessly with your GTD system. Your trusted GTD system holds all of your projects and next actions that are important to you. If you are a true GTDer you are doing daily or at least weekly reviews of your system, which means it always represents a true and complete snapshot of what’s important in your life at any given time. Being a GTDer is the biggest advantage when it comes to being prepared for selecting that ugly frog from the pond every time.

Eating frogs is an acquired taste. Discipline yourself to do it every morning and soon it will be a habit that will really maximize your productivity and sense of accomplishment for each and every day!

Other posts in the “Maximize Productivity” series:
1. Maximize Productivity: Make a Decision
2. Maximize Productivity #2: Forced Efficiency