Swallowing the big toad first

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My favourite teacher in sixth-form, the waistcoat-wearing, philosophy-spouting, local councillor Mr Anthony, had a slogan on his maths room wall:

‘If you have to swallow two toads, eat the big one first.’

photo by erikpaterson via flickr creative commons
photo by erikpaterson via flickr creative commons

It’s good advice, but easy to forget. When I’m trying to get started of a morning, I’ll often do a small, easy piece of work, to ease myself into the day. Then another, for the sense of satisfaction. And so on, picking off the easy fruit first.

The problem is, this means that the later tasks seem more daunting – everything’s harder than what I’ve done before. Whereas if, at the start of the day, I took a deep breath and did the big task, then everything would be easier from there on.

I’m trying to get back into that habit. It’s not easy, but it’ll make me more productive, and less bowed down under the weight of big tasks I’ve put off.

Anybody else got words of wisdom on this subject? How do you organise your work to be most productive? We’re all different, but I’m curious, what works for you? And who was your Mr Anthony?