“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” — Mark Twain (via BrainyQuotes.com)
I wish I had been familiar with this quote when I was younger. Twain’s advice about getting the worst of a task out of the way just might have saved me a heap of trouble and many nights of angst.
You see, when I was a kid, our “suppers” would almost always consist of some sort of meat, a starchy carbohydrate, and a vegetable. Back then, it seemed as if all the veggies that showed up on our table came from a can, and they were slimy, foul, disgusting, and just generally Grinch-like.
I usually did OK with the meat-and-potatoes portion of the meal, but the vile weeds were a different story altogether. I can’t even tell you how many nights I sat staring at my bowl of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, or spinach for hours on end, just praying that my mom would get tired of threatening me with paternal “interaction” if I didn’t finish the goo.
Tough Tasks Won’t Just Go Away
She never did, though.
I had to eat them, and by the time I did, they were always ice cold and tasted worse than ever. We didn’t have microwaves back then, so re-heating meant firing up the stove again, and THAT wasn’t going to happen. (On a side note … I’m so old!)
Eventually, I figured out that I was going to have to slug down the villainous plants no matter what, so I might as well do it while they were at least hot. Before long, I realized that not only did eating my veggies FIRST get them out of the way and out of my sight, it also left a beautiful plateful of the foods I wanted to eat.
And, I didn’t have the specter of the dreaded okra chaser hanging over my head.
These days, I love almost all kinds of vegetables but opt for the fresh or lightly steamed varieties when I can. The green stuff no longer causes me heartburn or anxiety, and it’s been years since I lost any sleep over food.
Still, those dinner-table battles taught me a lesson that I revisit from time to time when I feel stuck …
DO WHAT YOU HATE FIRST!
OK, maybe “hate” is harsh, but if you have a series of tasks you need to complete, there is bound to be at least one that makes your heart jump and your palms sweat just thinking about it. And it’ll sit there mocking you, just like my bowl of cold peas, until you finish it.
Now, there may be times when order matters — you can’t publish your book before you write it, for instance. But when you have a choice, you’re almost always better off to do the icky stuff first and leave yourself with a plateful of dessert.
So get out there. Write that email. Compile your book in Scrivener. Pick your antagonist’s name, already!
And when you’re done, you can do what you love. (HINT: That should be writing your story if you’re reading this.)