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Your first reaction is probably as mine was, "What's this nonsense about needing to avoid eating frogs?" But, we'll probably all agree in the end that it's important to think about how we avoid eating live frogs. Again you say, "What?!" This unsavory imagery of frog consumption is used by professional development writer Brian Tracy […]

Your first reaction is probably as mine was, "What's this nonsense about needing to avoid eating frogs?" But, we'll probably all agree in the end that it's important to think about how we avoid eating live frogs. Again you say, "What?!" This unsavory imagery of frog consumption is used by professional development writer Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog, as his notion of an amusing way to approach the stubborn problem of procrastination. I admit, it's one of my favorite books.

It's true that everyone has their frog(s). These metaphorical frogs refer to some tasks that must be done, but that we  procrastinate on, for any number of self-persuasive reasons. We find some items on our to-do lists so undesirable that Tracy compares our avoidance of doing one of these tasks to avoiding eating a live frog. That seems pretty accurate to me.

How to eat live frogs

Tracy lays out some great tips for getting yourself to take hard actions that lead to important accomplishments. They're just simple efficiency techniques for getting yourself up and in motion and managing time in ways that can help you reach your major goals faster. In fact, he offers a total of twenty one suggestions, which he calls rules.

If you find you have two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. Pick the hardest, biggest, most important task and do it first. Start on it immediately, and stick with it until you complete it. This, and the other five general ideas below, are my take on some of the ways the book addresses our subconscious efforts to avoid doing undesirable pending tasks. Or, metaphorically, it addresses the ways we avoid eating live frogs.

1. Don't stare at the frog.

If you find there is a live frog you must eat, it simply doesn’t help to stare at it for very long.

•Go head-on into the biggest, most important task facing you first thing every day.

•Practice doing this until you develop a habit of managing your priorities this way.

2. Weigh your priorities.

Ask yourself these three questions, and act based on your answers, to help you maximize your productivity.

•What activities on my to-do list are of highest value to me?

•What of my to-do items that cannot be delegated, and can make a significant difference if I do them?

•Currently, which tasks are really the most valuable use of my time?

3. Sort to-do items into two classes.

•Priority items: those it's best to do sooner and more of.

•Postponement items: those that you can really do later and less of, or actually could actually delegate or just not do them at all.

•Remember: The only way to get control of your time management, your goals, and your life is to get control of the extent to which you stop doing activities that are of lower value.

4. Choose which skill you most want to develop.

Decide which single skill, if you developed it and used it excellently, would have the biggest positive impact on your career.

•Move aside some lower-priority stuff and just get it on your schedule.

•And, start activities to develop that skill, without permitting more delays (such as waiting until you clear off smaller tasks from your schedule, etc.).

5. Motivate yourself into action.

Stay motivated by resolving yourself to be a total optimist. Condition yourself to be consistently optimistic by doing the following.

•Find the good in every bad situation.

•Focus on finding a solution.

•Stay focused on, and keep talking about your goals.

Bonus Tip

I'll tack on a bonus rule from the book here, in addition to the list, because this one is really a way of integrating the concept of what and who you want to be into your general self-perception than a strategy for confronting specific tasks. And, that is this: Practice visualizing yourself as you want to be. I've found it's a great strategy for keeping my focus on my major goals. And, it does help me maintain perspective on why I should eat live frogs that are guaranteed to show up on my desk.

The bottom line behavior for success, in Tracy's assessment, is simply to eat the frog quickly, and early, and resolutely—the whole thing. Eat the ugliest one first. And then, eat another one. He concludes that if you actually gobble down a live frog every morning, you will certainly see that you've already been through the worst that's going to happen to you that day.

It's your basic just-get-it-out-of-the- way message. The take home is—eat the ugliest frogs as early in the day as possible. I can attest that it really is satisfying to have the experience of choking those down behind me early in the day.

Does it work?

I've been trying to develop a habit of using Tracy's visualization—just grabbing and munching on the ugliest of the frogs I've had staring up at me from my desk and croaking at me from my to-do lists. With kids, and a household, and a business to manage, I have a lot of froggy stuff jumping around on my desk on any given day. And, I'm finding that gulping down those high-priority amphibians is a delicious experience! In fact, the bigger the frog, the better!

So, I can strongly recommend Eat That Frog as a quick-read, if you're finding yourself bogged down by procrastination on important tasks. If you read it, let us know if you find anything helpful in it. I can say I found useful advise in it for busy people.

And, it does amuse me to think of dreaded to-do items as untasty swamp creatures that must be chewed up to unblock the escape from the mental bog. Just hold your nose, and devour your frog!

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Ready to Have Some Fun in the Sun This Summer? Don't Miss These Six Tips for Enjoying the Heat Safely If you're anything like me, you approach the summer and think: "What I am going to do with the kids?" School is out, and there is more time to occupy throughout the day. I've learned […]

Ready to Have Some Fun in the Sun This Summer? Don't Miss These Six Tips for Enjoying the Heat Safely

If you're anything like me, you approach the summer and think: "What I am going to do with the kids?" School is out, and there is more time to occupy throughout the day. I've learned that this doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Summer is a great time to get your family together to do fun, inexpensive actives to beat the heat. It's also a season that -- depending on where you live -- can wreak havoc on your family because of the increased chance of exposure to sun, sunburn, dehydration and more.

But summer doesn't have to turn into that kind of debacle for you and your family. I've learned that by following these key six tips -- that are oh so easy -- you can experience a summer season full of excitement, happiness, health and fun. Best of all, these six tips all are inexpensive and friendly on your family's budget.

Are you ready to make this a summer to remember for your family? Read on to get my six savvy summer tips for having fun AND beating the heat. Let's go!

Tip #1: Have an Indoor Picnic

When the summer temperatures are blazing outside, it's not worth it to venture out. Instead, bring the summer fun inside by hosting an indoor picnic with your kids. You can make this a themed day with all of your activities for the day leading up to a big indoor lunch.

For example, get everyone up in the morning and announce today you'll be having a summer picnic indoors -- but before that can happen, you need everyone's help making all of the special food and preparing for the picnic games.

Some ideas for the foods you can prepare include:

Spread a huge quilt out on your living room floor and invite your children to "set" the table by placing plates, napkins and silverware at place settings around the periphery of the quilt. Place all the food and drink in the middle of the quilt for a lunchtime picnic.

  • Make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Wash grapes and strawberries and place in bags
  • Fold red checked napkins
  • Bake a fruit pie or make a fruit pizza
  • Put chips in a bowl and make a side of dip. This works for fruit as well!
  • Toss a healthy salad
  • Put toothpicks in cheese cubes and fruit.
  • Make a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea.

After the picnic lunch is over, host a few indoor picnic games -- including a balloon toss or relay, a board game such as checkers or Memory and face painting. Make it fun and creative!

backyard camping idea

Tip #2: Go Backyard Camping

Summer backyard camping is a great activity to spark your kid's interest once the sun has set.

Simply set up a tent in the backyard and whip out the S'mores makers (a combination of Sterno lamps, marshmallows and other S'mores fixings). Set out those lawn chairs once again, add lanterns with battery-operated lights for ambiance, and look for constellations using a free constellation finder app that you can download to your phone.

You don't have to sleep outside the entire night -- just enough to get the camping experience and to take in the stars.

family community service project idea

Tip #3: Have a Rotating Neighborhood Summer Camp

Designing a simple, rotating neighborhood summer camp is a great way to involve other parents in your neighborhood in a fun summer activity that keeps the kids out of the heat -- and gives you some downtime for a week.

Ideally, each parent will take on hosting a day camp in their home for a day. If a parent can't host for that long, you could design a half-day camp. Each day will have a theme to it and a learning opportunity. You can give parents flexibility in what they decide to teach and do -- but each day should include some kind of lesson, snack/lunch, and craft.

An example for a simple plan you could follow includes:

  • Day 1: How Do Plants Survive in the Summer: The kids could get a lesson around the kitchen table, plant in the garden, pick veggies for the garden for snack and take home a potted plant to share with their family.
  • Day 2: Piano Camp: Each child can get a lesson in music and basic piano. Snack can include music-themed foods -- such as black and white lady fingers
  • Day 3: Go Artsy: Teach about the masters of art and then help your kids replicate a famous work such as Van Gogh's "Starry Night."
  • Day 4: Water Works: Learn about the summer weather system in your area, do water experiments in the kitchen and make your own sparkling water during snack time.
  • Day 5: On the Go: Get moving with a group exercise class complete with jumping and music, refresh with water and a healthy snack, play a group sport -- such as volleyball -- outside, but don't get too hot!

You can adjust this summer neighborhood camp plan based upon the skills and expertise of the parents in your community.

neighborhood summer camp idea

Tip #4: Adopt a Community Service Project

Summer is the perfect time to give back to your community. Non-profts in the area may have trouble getting volunteers because their regular staff and volunteers are on vacation. You can fill in that gap and teach your children the importance of giving to and supporting your community by taking on some kind of volunteer service.

Some easy ideas include:

  • Stocking a local food pantry
  • Delivering or preparing meals for people who have food insecurity in the home
  • Working in a community garden
  • Visiting home-bound elderly people to deliver them cookies.
  • Running errands for a person in need.

Find a gap together and fill the need as a family. Not only can this be an exciting diversion from routine summer schedules, but it will have lasting impact on your children by teaching them a value that you hold as a human being.

backyard summer waterpark idea

Tip #5: Set Up a Backyard Waterpark

If the temperatures aren't too high, turn your backyard into a waterpark. Buy an inflatable pool and a Slip 'N Slide from your local big box store. Hook up the hose and spend the afternoon getting cool in the inflatable pool and sliding down the Slip 'N Slide.

Fill a second inflatable pool with ice and refreshing water and other drinks for the kids and neighbors. Set up lawn chairs and an umbrella for resting under the shade.

This is a great outdoor activity that your adult parents can participate in as well!

kids cooking class at home

Tip #6: Hold a Kid's Cooking Class

Summer is a wonderful time to get in the kitchen and prepare delicious and easy summer food items that will last for the next season. Little hands can be great helpers -- so get your children involved in the cooking process with you.

Host a "cooking class" in your kitchen with your children and other neighborhood kids. For example, you could make homemade ice cream together, prepare strawberry jam, make homemade peanut butter, make applesauce and more.

Keep in mind the food allergies the kids may have who are coming into your kitchen. Make it fun, and give every kid a jar of whatever you make to take home to use with their family. They will have not only a delicious item to share with their family, but they will feel pride in having made it themselves.

Ready to Enjoy YOUR Summer?

If you're ready to venture out into the summer sun for some great family activities, then make sure you are playing it safe for you and your family. The sun cannot only cause severe sunburn, but exposure can lead to dehydration and eventually skin cancer. Summer is a great time to be outside with your family doing everything from playing at the beach to riding a lazy river to cool off. Just make sure you are prepared with adequate sunscreen, reapply often and invest in protect clothing -- such as long-sleeved bathing shirts and sun hats -- to keep the smallest nuggets in your family safe, happy and cool.

Your summer awaits! So use this quick guide of my go-to tips to prepare for all of your activities! Use this guide as your checklist before heading outside in the sun -- and you'll stay cool and protected. Did this guide help you? Which tips are most helpful as you prepare? Let me know by leaving a comment below -- and feel free to add your own tips for staying safe and happy in the summer heat!

 

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When was the last time you and your hubby took some time for a date night? If you are like me, and like many busy parents, it's probably been a while. Date nights are a great way to destress, strengthen your relationship, and have fun. But, it can be hard to find time for yourself […]

When was the last time you and your hubby took some time for a date night? If you are like me, and like many busy parents, it's probably been a while. Date nights are a great way to destress, strengthen your relationship, and have fun. But, it can be hard to find time for yourself when life is so busy. Well, one solution that I've found is to have simple and short "date nights" whenever our schedule allows. That way, my husband and I can still spend time together but without scheduling out a whole day or evening. Here are some of our favorite easy date ideas for busy couples:

Go out to eat at a new restaurant

Don't stress about breaking the bank at a fancy restaurant. Instead, try a local eatery that you have never been to before. Instead of looking online, just drive around town until you see a place that looks intriguing. It can even be a food truck or pop-up restaurant. Most local restaurants are affordable and unique in their atmosphere, style, and flavor. Who know, maybe you will find your new favorite place to eat!

Explore nature on a long walk

Go to the foothills, forest, or lake side near where you leave to get some fresh air while exploring new places. If you can't get that far away or don't have a lot of time, then just walk around your neighborhood or city. This will give you time to just talk about anything and everything with your spouse. So often as parents you are so busy that you don't even talk about simple things, like how your day went. Take this time to enjoy each others company and catch up.

Watch the sunset at a lookout point

If you are able to get away from the kids in the evening, then hike or drive to a lookout point near you. Try to leave at least an hour before sunset to give you time to find a good spot, settle in, and relax. Be sure to bring some blankets to sit on and cuddle with! And for a little more fun, bring dinner or dessert with you to eat while you watch the beautiful sunset.

Take a long drive to somewhere new

Going for a drive is such an easy 'date' because there is practically no planning required! Just pick a destination, or even just a direction, and just drive. Go to a city near by that you have never been to, see a local tourist location, drive to the place where you met, or even just drive around town. The possibilities are endless. Wherever your drive takes you, you can just hold hands, chat, and listen to music that you both love.

Listen to a live local band performance

If you are in the mood for excitement, then go see a band at a concert venue or festival. Or if you want a more laid back evening, just go to a small coffee shop or restaurant where local artists play. Enjoy the music, the company, and the food or coffee.

Go fishing in a pond nearby

It's always fun to take a fishing trip that lasts a day or two, but when your free time is limited, just head over to a local pond that allows fishing. Cast a line, pull up a chair, and crack open your favorite drink. This is one of our favorites to do in the summer!

Bubble bath after the kids are in bed

Can't find a babysitter? No worries. You can still have a romantic evening by taking a candle lit bubble bath with your sweetheart after the kids are in bed.

Check out a new locally owned store

It's always great to shop local! Whether it's a family owned store, little boutique, or a homemade cupcake store, there are always some unique finds in every city. Visit some stores you've had your eye on or just window shop down the main street.

Classic picnic in the park

If the whether is nice outside then head over to your favorite park (or the closet park) and have a classic picnic! Pack a delicious meal, bring a blanket to sit on, and of course, don't forget the wine!

Night in, movie on the couch

Don't have enough energy to leave the house? Then just hire a babysitter to take the kids for the evening so you can have the house all to yourself. Relax and cuddle on the couch while you catch up on your favorite Netflix show or rent a movie.