Hate Your To Do List? Do the Hardest Task First

frogSome days, I wake up so incredibly stressed.

Why did I agree to bring 7 dozen homemade banana muffins to school on Grandparent Appreciation Day?

Ever feel just plain overwhelmed and emotionally spent because of work, kids, husband and all those obligations you should've said no to?

Cool mom Tsh Oxenreider (pronounced Tish, not a typo) over at SimpleMom has an answer for making your day easier: Do the hardest task first, and you won't hate the rest of your to-do list.

The rest of the day will be a cake walk, she told me recently. Or in my case, Wednesday will be a homemade banana muffin.


On her blog last week, she quoted Mark Twain's wise advice, "Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."

This morning, I have one pressing task even worse than muffin making: Due to a recurring toothache, I have to make a dentist appointment, and I will probably wind up with a root canal. I've had a root canal before, and on my list of fun things to do, it comes right after vaginally delivering twins with hardly any epidural.

SimpleMom told me I should just make this phone call first. "We think it'll hurt more than it does. How often do we delay doing something for so long, and then when we finally do it, we think, 'Hmmm, that wasn't so bad?'"

She says I'll lessen stress immediately, so I can focus on other tasks throughout the day. "You won't have that painful thing taking up valuable energy, so you can get other things done."

And if you really hate doing something like, say, dishes, pair it with something fun. "Listen to your favorite CD at the same time, then reward yourself with a cup of tea afterward," she adds.

Here are more tips straight from SimpleMom's Start By Eating a Frog post:

  • Make a to-do list for the day.
  • Narrow down your list to 10 things. You shouldn't reasonably expect yourself to do more.
  • Out of those 10 to-dos, pick three most important tasks. These are the things you need to do today, accomplishing them means you're successful.
  • Out of those 3 things, pick the worst one. Do it first. Eat your frog.
  • Out of your list of 10 to-dos, pick the easiest. You can do that after you do the hardest.

So here I go: I'll call the dentist right now and then eat carrots and biscotti, since I'll be only be able to chew soup and baby food soon. Yes, making those banana muffins will seem easier after that.

What's on your to do list?

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