Eating That Frog and Portion Size

Ever hear of that guy Brian Tracy, or that book he wrote called Eat That Frog? In case you haven’t, the metaphorical “frog” in the title represents a task that you have been dreading and therefore keep putting off. Tracy suggests that, in order to overcome procrastination, you should tackle that awful task, or “eat that frog”, first thing in the morning. That way, it’s over and done with and everything else that comes after it will seem like a tasty treat. I think it’s a good theory, and so I attempted to put it into practice.

Eating My Frog

For whatever reason, I hadn’t yet written any unit tests for my Book Review plugin, or my upcoming premium add-on plugin. I was now faced with the somewhat daunting and not entirely pleasant job of writing them after the fact. I also decided that there was no other task more important than adding test coverage, and so writing unit tests became my frog.

Here’s the thing – unit testing isn’t terribly fun. It can be difficult to figure out not only what to test but also how to test it. And although WordPress has some great tools that make it easier, it’s often still a struggle. Because I didn’t allow myself to work on anything else until all of the unit tests were in place, a strange thing happened – I ended up doing nothing at all!

Why Portion Size Matters

Eat That Frog

The problem, of course, was that I had assigned myself too large of a task. It was like eating a big, juicy frog for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And one can only take so many meals of frog before one might decide that they don’t really like frog all that much and opt to change their diet.

So I did. I switched gears and worked on the website that I’m getting ready to launch instead. And wouldn’t you know it? After working on something else for awhile, I found myself reinvigorated and ready to get back to writing those nasty unit tests I’d been avoiding.

After that I learned that what I need to do going forward is to break large tasks into more manageable chunks. In the case of unit testing, for example, that chunk usually involves writing tests for a single file or class at a time. That becomes my frog for the day. Once that is done, I can move on to doing other things that I take more enjoyment in. Slowly but surely, more and more unit tests get added and I make steady progress towards my goal.

So please, the next time you’re considering making reservations at that new all-you-can-eat frog buffet place that just opened up, you may want to think twice.