My favorite life hack ever

August 1, 2016
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director

Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for dvm360.com. Before taking over

This strategy isnt easy, but the resultswhen I manage itare definitely powerful.

This month you're going to be reading a lot about “hacks” in dvm360 magazine and its sister publications, Vetted and Firstline. First, we take a high-level view of at the veterinary psyche in dvm360, examining whether there are certain aspects of being in the career you're in that make your approach to change and transformation different from average folks. Then in the other magazines and on dvm360.com, we're focusing on tips, tricks and strategies (think lifehacker.com and other similar collections of geniusy shortcuts and life-improvement tips) that make your veterinary journey easier, more rewarding and more fun.

In that spirit, I thought I'd offer up my favorite hack of all time for productivity and task-oriented well-being. It's called “eating the frog.” I've written about this concept before, but a reader introduced me to the ranine terminology, and I have since learned that the idea originated with Mark Twain.

With appreciation to that long-ago reader and the estimable Samuel Langhorne Clemens himself, here's how it works: The idea is that you tackle the biggest, ugliest, most nauseating task on your to-do list before you do anything else. (For me, that's usually a difficult phone call.) Because, as Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

I know there's a frog hopping around somewhere that I need to gobble up when I get into a low-energy slump, when my mind drifts, when I make lists instead of doing anything on them, when I'm not even a bit excited about the work in front of me. I may not be actively avoiding an unpleasant task, but if I stop long enough to examine the source of my dispiritedness, there's usually a slimy, icky chore croaking at the bottom of some well in the shadows of my task list.

Once I do tackle that sucker, the results are pretty amazing. Everything else seems easy by comparison and, just like Twain promised, the day gets way better.

Sometimes I now even go frog-hunting. If I'm in a bad mood or having a hard time getting motivated, I intentionally look for something to do that's not fun but necessary. Once I'm through it, everything is brighter.

Variations on “eat the frog” include sayings like “Do the thing that's hard to do and the power will follow” and “We don't run away from fear; we run straight toward it.” In other words, stop avoiding already.

This hack is easy to say, not easy to do. But the next time you're frustrated, try tackling that frog. You might be surprised what a frog-free day can do for you.