One of the dilemmas I’ve faced in 19+ years of homeschool is “getting it all done.” Of course “it” is often a vague idea in my head, with a never-ending list of things to do, to learn, to memorize, to write, to experience, or to perform. And of course, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be cleaned, sorted, or washed. Aside from homeschool there are a million other things seemingly screaming for my time and attention.
Israel Wayne, a homeschool dad/speaker, years ago recommended a book to me to help my teenagers keep on task. Its intriguing title, Eat That Frog drew me in right away. The subtitle was even more intriguing: Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. (Brian Tracy, author) Ironic moment here–I left the book on my oldest son’s desk for about two weeks. I don’t believe he ever opened it. So I decided to read it instead.
The title is based on a paraphrased quote attributed to Mark Twain–“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.” Tracy continues the thought: “That frog is your biggest, most important task, the one you are likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.”
With four kids (two now graduated from college but occasionally under my roof in the past few years and requiring logistical management and college financing), a part-time job, and a home to run, I joke that I mostly spend my time keeping all the plates spinning, like a circus act.
I tend to get overwhelmed and distracted by all the un-done and crisis tasks, and not get to the core of what needs to be done. This book’s approach and suggestions are helping me re-think this, for myself and my children.
For the past week I’ve been taking time each evening to write down a frog or two for my upcoming day to face first, intentionally. I already make a school and task list for my two youngest each day. They like marking these off as they complete things, so I decided to add a completely new task–Eat That Frog. I help them decide what the frog is on their existing list. If they do it first, they also get the satisfaction of marking off the Frog listing as well. One day my youngest voted to do his Pre-Algebra first. He doesn’t hate math, but finds it tedious (as do I, so correcting his math is one of my frogs too!) My daughter chose to read the several chapters she was behind in a book that she wasn’t enjoying.
The book has many more encouraging strategies, but the main takeaway for me is that if the kids and I can all learn the self-discipline of tackling a daunting task in the morning, we’ll have a sense of accomplishment greater than the task itself. Prioritizing and possibly even eliminating unnecessary or “can-wait” tasks is a valuable discipline as well, and the book addresses that. Maybe I’ll find that I can completely eliminate some of those plates I’ve been trying to keep spinning.
This is a secular book, not a Christian one, so it takes on a more worldly view of “success,” but nonetheless was very valuable in content. The book was available at my local library or at Amazon.