Do You Eat Frogs?

Apr 12, 2010 by

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”

William James

To create a CV, following redundancy after 20 years’ work or doing so to get yourself out of a dissatisfying job and into a better one, can be daunting. For many, it’s an uncomfortable process. And people typically do one of two things:

Procrastinate. Big time. And do nothing. Some feel so overwhelmed by the thought of creating a CV, or filling in lengthy application forms, that they avoid it completely. How many of us, when faced with a task we’d rather avoid, are guilty of creating a long list of little jobs we kid ourselves we must complete before we confront the one we’d rather not do?


Rush. And make a mess in the process, either because we refuse to make time to do things properly, or because we throw ourselves into an unpleasant task with such gusto and desire to get it over with that we cut corners in the process.

Neither approach is effective. Both will severely compromise your chances of presenting as well as you can when job opportunities come along. Chances are, if you take one of these two approaches, you will adopt a similar approach in other aspects of your life too. Such habits can lead to all sorts of problems. Remaining jobless is one. Mental drain, gradual loss of confidence, and eventual unhappiness are others. But habits can be changed, and we advise you to consider yours…

Organise yourself and change your habits.

The world is awash with books, blogs, podcasts, audio books and websites tackling the issue of time management and organisation. Many contain valuable advice that could help you hasten a successful conclusion to your job hunt. No doubt you will discover better ones than this. For now, and for those who squirm and scoff at the thought of reading self-help books, check out the simple tips below offered by Brian Tracey and Stephen Covey…

Eat frogs with Brian Tracy for better time management.

Brian Tracy is a best selling author and speaker from America who has made a fortune spreading the simplest of mantras – ‘Eat That Frog!

The central message in his book of the same name is simple:

Eating a frog is a task most would consider rather unpleasant. We’d probably do our utmost to avoid doing it. But if the worst thing you had to do everyday was to eat a frog, then you would feel a whole lot happier if you got over and done with eating that frog first thing in the morning.  Organise all your ‘frogs’ into size order and deal with the biggest one first.

You’ll know if your CV is one of your ‘frogs’ -  You’ll experience a mild sense of dread or loathing whenever you think about having to do it. You’ll start writing ‘to do’ lists and maybe even underline ‘CV’ or ‘do LinkedIn profile’ but you’ll kid yourself that everything else on there is more important and should be done first, even cleaning the grout between the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, or ironing and folding all your socks.

Result: You’ll never get your CV done because, to quote Charles Kingsley, “Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.”

Does all this frog business really help people prioritise their time effectively? It might not for everyone. But for me, visualising all those things I’d rather not do – phone calls to make, emails to send, paperwork to fill in, housework – as ‘frogs’ (and remembering the feeling the relief that comes with dealing with them) can radically transform my motivation and determination to get things done in the right order.

It may not be a technique that works for you. But there are many more authors and experts in human behaviour out there advocating all kinds of methods and techniques to teach you to deal with important tasks more effectively. Some will resonate more than others. My advice is to go and explore. There are plenty of authors we could recommend.

Learn to Put First Things First with Stephen Covey.

If Brian Tracy doesn’t convince you, go and read ‘First Things First‘ by Stephen Covey. Putting first things first – prioritising effectively, in other words – is the third of seven habits Covey deems necessary for achieving success and life goals. The book is a classic, a standard work that remains a best seller around the world.

Covey suggests working with a basic matrix to help us prioritise tasks effectively. Get a piece of paper and devide it into four boxes. Add one of the four labels below to each box. Then think about your typical day and all the tasks on your ‘to do’ list – short, medium and long term. Try and sort your tasks by urgency and importance and list them under one of the four labelled boxes on your paper:

Important and Urgent (eg: crying baby, kitchen fire, some calls)

Important but Non Urgent (eg: exercise, vocation planning, CVs)

Not Important and Urgent (eg: distractions, interruptions, other calls)

Not Important and Non Urgent (eg: trivial matters, busy work, time wasters)

Now consider which tasks you always deal with first, and which ones you continually neglect. People with poor time management skills, or those stuck in a cycle of procrastination and avoidance, will put off dealing with tasks in the Non Urgent but Important box until they become Urgent and Important.

CVs and job hunting generally fall into the Non Urgent but Important category, requiring as they do an investment of time and thought to carry out that oh so important process of self evaluation and building relationships with people who could give you a job one day. In many cases, leaving these tasks until the last minute will result in you missing out when opportunities appear.

What’s the impact of avoidance?

Your job hunting will suffer + your short and long term happiness will be compromised.

Some people are averse to drawing charts and pictures, but our advice is: be open about it, try it, and don’t rely on mental notes. It takes time to prepare CVs, time to hunt out companies where your skills will be welcome, time to build and maintain relationships with people who could give you a job, time to evaluate yourself and figure out what you really want from life and work. None of these things can be done last minute. Feed the cat and make sure your children get to school by all means, but ask yourself if it’s really necessary to switch on the hoover or iron all your socks before you settle into your job-hunting task.

“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.”

Victor Kiam


Why not start moving your jobsearch along? Try these articles:

What’s your plan?

Your Career: Not sure what to do?

Are you gardening or hunting?

1 Comment

  1. After reading your so many articles, it has built lot of confidence in me. At the same time I became your fan. I admire the way you write your blogs. They are so inspiring.

    Thanks once again.

    Uday Kanike


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