Eat a Frog in 20 Minutes or Less!

Most of us have heard the expression or variants of the expression sometimes attributed to Mark Twain or more likely, Nicols Chamfort that says, “Swallow a toad in the morning if you want to encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day. (2018)” It’s a metaphor for doing the most important task you have in the morning that will have the biggest impact on your day. It’s good advice and there are blogs and books and lectures out there supporting that. Have you ever considered giving yourself a time limit to eat your toad?

When I was young, I remember sitting at the dinner table with my brothers and waiting for dessert and my mother telling one of my brothers, “You have two minutes to finish your dinner, or you don’t get any dessert.” If dessert was good enough and they made a commitment to do something now to get something later, dinner was finished in two minutes.

While I agree that life is a journey and goals are too sometimes, a time limit, a deadline or a fixed amount of time focuses and forces one to plan and put concentrated effort into a task. Why would people spend the preparation, the hours of practice and training, the financial cost of equipment, clothing, transportation if all events were not timed? Why do we care about personal records even if we don’t finish first? We have an inherent desire to improve, progress and be the best we can be.

An article in the Harvard Business Review corroborates the importance of setting a time limit on those tasks that are important but not urgent, “To avoid spending all your time answering emails and texts, try scheduling important tasks in your calendar. Block out an hour or two so that the task doesn’t get lost in the blur of the day… If your task still feels intimidating, shrinking it further until it seems doable. You might end up with a goal that’s one-fourth or one-tenth the size of what you initially considered – but it’ll feel much more achievable.” (Boyes)

Sometimes, deadlines help the muse to start speaking. The Accomplishment System (TAS), a new approach for taking elephant-sized goals and breaking them down into bite-sized pieces, has a software that helps you review and focus your commitments, then when you have scheduled time in your day to complete the task, a timer is there to help you focus that time to keep you from being distracted by electronic devices, alerts, pop-ups, and interruptions. Check it out at


So, go ahead and set your goals, decide what is important, block out time during your day or week, set a timer, and eat your frogs!

Works Cited

BoyesAliceHow to Focus on What’s Important, Not Just What’s Urgent.Harvard Business Review[Online][Cited: 23 October 2018.]

Eat a Live Frog Every Morning, and Nothing Worse Will Happen to You the Rest of the Day.Quote Investigator[Online]22 October 2018.