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Graham, February 1 2022

How to deal with procrastination - one frog at a time

My name is Graham Birkenhead and I am a procrastinator.  

I'm not alone, I'm not even in the minority.  It is estimated that 15 to 25% of adults are chronically affected by procrastination, and up to 75% of adults procrastinate on a regular basis.  Not only does it mean that you put off doing tasks and activities that need to be done, but the knowledge that something needs to be done lurks at the back of your mind, consuming mental processing capacity as well as creating feelings of guilt. It creates a little cloud that follows you around affecting mood, focus, effectiveness and overall performance.

My flavour of procrastination is not consistent, but I do know it is directly related to the number of frogs I have to eat. Metaphorical frogs of course.

Over the years, people have told me many useful things, and one in particular that resonates is "Eat the frog before breakfast, and if you have 2 frogs to eat, then eat the ugly one first"

This means that if you have something that you 'really' don't want to do, is unpleasant in some way, or maybe daunting, make sure you do it first thing in the day.   

However, your brain will come up with all sorts of inventive ways to explain why it is OK to do it later, or any number of other things that you could do first; and it will be very convincing. But the knowledge that the frog is sitting on your shoulder will not go away.  So, to make the eating the frog idea really work, you have to Name your Frog.  Write it down or say it out loud "My Frog for today is ............" and, according to your level of discipline, deal with your frog before doing absolutely anything else - certainly before doing anything more pleasant that you had planned, and don't try doing something else at the same time; deal with the frog and only the frog.  And by the way, one of the major resources we have available to us today that feeds our procrastination is internet, e-mails and social media, as well as the more traditional cups of coffee, and the various little tidying tasks that suddenly make themselves apparent.

Spread your frogs out, one a day, but if you do have to deal with 2, do the uglier one first, have a celebratory coffee, then tackle the next.  Once your frogs are dealt with, that little cloud evaporates - till the next frog comes along.

Graham

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Just a note, procrastination is a very complex issue, and for some a devastating problem.  

The frog is one technique amongst many that can be useful to the more routine procrastinator. Take a moment and send me your best ideas for dealing with problematic procrastination (don’t put it off).

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Graham

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