Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Eat the Frog First?

by Susan


Mmmmm ... tasty.
Many people advise to eat the live frog, or at least the raw one, first thing in the morning, to knock out the toughest task before you go to the easy ones.

I tend to put it last on the tasting menu, after a few appetizers of varying appetizingness. Kermit sushi (with a dab of wasabi, followed by a slice of pickled ginger) is often last on the list.

Oddly, this works for me most days. Winnowing from too many tasks to one big one takes away a few distractions. Plus, I am never so efficient at one task as when I'm avoiding another one.

SQUIRREL!!
I've heard it referred to as "stack order:" the optimum number of projects a given person can juggle without boredom or anxious meltdown. Too many things on my to-do list and I jump from one to the other like a squirrel with ADHD. Better to knock one or two of the smaller ones out. Clear the desk, clear the mind.

A kitten ... about to be hit
by an asteroid
One caveat: I am a morning person. If it takes brain cells, it better happen before lunch because an increasing number of neurons go into hibernation as the day wears on. By late afternoon, I'm good for little more than watching videos of cute kittens and earth-ending asteroids.

Sadly, though, the frog I most often put off eating, often until tomorrow or the next tomorrow or the day after that is my personal writing. It's the one most tastily prepared. Soul-feeding frog.

I need my frogs. They're part of a healthy diet of challenge and accomplishment. Unfortunately, frogs with deadlines go bad after a few days. I still have to eat them.

Creative writing is the one frog, though, that never gets slimy around the edges before the meal. It's always the tastiest. It needs to go first on the menu.

I have been blessed with non-creative deadlines lately, which has kicked the creativity into high gear as I avoid the rest of the to-do list. Why do I usually put it off? I don't know. Fear that I will write badly. Fear that I will write powerfully. The distraction of ... SQUIRREL! My job now is to develop a writing routine that makes sure the best dish is on the menu.

We all develop our own work styles. What's yours? Frog first? Is frog not just for breakfast any more? And where does your own writing land on the menu?

Photo credits: "Red Eyed tree frog" from the Swallowtail Garden Seeds collection of botanical images and illustrations. This image is in the public domain. "Squirrel" by John Morgan and "Kittens" by Jennifer C. licensed under CC BY 2.0. Source: Flickr Creative Commons.

11 comments:

  1. What's the difference between a frog and a toad? Don't know, but I've always said, "If you have a toad to eat, eat it first thing in the morning and the rest of the day will be all downhill. Some of those damned toads are ugly and very distasteful, but the eating is best suffered in the past. Another neat post, Susan. I look forward to your postings each Tuesday. You and Lynn are a wonderful team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Art!
      I'm not sure what the difference between a frog and a toad are. In terms of having them on the menu, I guess I've heard of eating frog legs, but not toad legs. Although neither one sounds terribly appealing to me.

      Delete
  2. I go by deadlines. For example, my post for Writing Wranglers and Warriors, a blog to which I contribute at least once a month, isn't due to be up until next Tuesday. However, being visually impaired, I may need a sighted person to add images for me so it'll be consistent with the rest of the blog. Therefore, I need to get this post up and scheduled post haste so Cher'ley has time to do this before it goes live. Then, I want to revise another chapter of my memoir by Friday so I can send it to my weekly critique group that meets Saturday so they have time to read it beforehand. The weekly post for my own blog isn't due to go up until next Tuesday, but I can write and schedule it Monday if necessary, but I hope to start work on it later this week. Oh, it's already Wednesday so will see about that. If at all possible, laundry and other chores I reserve for weekends when I don't normally write. My utility bill isn't due until May 27th so I can pay that this weekend since the only other thing I have going on is my monthly Range Writers meeting on Saturday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes. I, too, find that deadlines have a focusing effect for me. Sounds like you are keeping busy, Abbie!

      Delete
  3. I love the quote from Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

    That quote makes me happy every time I think about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of my favorite quotes, too, Art.

      Delete
  4. Great post! I go by urgency. Whatever absolutely has to get done right now is what I do. So things usually wait until they are urgent to get done. And there are always tons of urgent things on the calendar. I'm doing well when I actually do the "must get dones" before they are horribly late. The "would be nice to get dones" like writing seem to be on a perpetual back burner. I need to work on that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chere! My struggle is to not get so buried in the "urgents" that I neglect, the "not urgent, but IMPORTANT" pile. I think we all feel like we're running 100 different directions just to barely keep up these days.

      Delete
  5. Chere and Susan, I suggest a dip into 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey, one of the most effective books I know for getting a nice flow between your personal, professional, and spiritual life. In his discussion of Habit 3, Put First Things First, he puts tasks into a matrix of four quadrants using four descriptors. The descriptors are Important, non important, urgent, not urgent. Then he shows the results of working mostly in each quadrant of the matrix. The results he shows are scary.

    His suggestion is to work in what he calls Quadrant II, those things that are important but not urgent. By working in Quadrant II, we get things done on time and without the waste, frustration, and mistakes that come with facing urgent tasks all the time. That discussion starts on page 150 of 7 Habits and goes on for 20 pages to page 170. It's worth reading this, even if you don't read the rest of the book.

    But then you'll probably put off reading this until it gets overtaken with the urgent stuff you are crashing on. ;-)))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good suggestion, Art. I may have to finally read that book.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, that's one I have been meaning to read! I'll have to just define reading it as "urgent" so I do it soon!

      Delete

Writing Wyoming blog comments are moderated--yours will be posted shortly. Thanks for joining in the conversation!