Eat that frog Solicitors Journal - 19 May 2009 Burtinshaw, By Catherine Burtinshaw Associate at Weightmans LLP This phrase really tickled me when I first heard it earlier this year, and it has stayed in my consciousness ever since. I came across it as someone mentioned a man named Brian Tracy who has written time management books with this title. “Eat that frog” means that you simply have to get on with that task as soon as you have switched on your computer, hung your jacket on the back of your office chair and made the first brew of the day (Mr Tracy may consider the latter procrastination, but I personally reach a much better place both mentally and physically once that hot caffeine starts to work its magic). I tried really, really hard to put the theory into effect recently. One Monday morning, I had several tasks on my ‘To Do’ list, which I endeavor to create at the end of my last working day each week. The most pressing project was clearly marked by three asterisks. However my firm was also going through its annual year end process, making billing shoot to the top of everyone’s agenda. This unfortunately gave me the perfect excuse to leave my frog hopping about all morning. I then of course had to eat, necessitating a quick 1pm trip out of the office to forage – actually I popped to M&S Foods in Piccadilly Station just opposite. Facing the frog Back at my desk with a pleasantly full stomach and a replenished glass of water I was fast running out of excuses. My bills were all being drafted, three whole days early, and I really couldn’t pretend that the non- asterisked To Do tasks came anywhere near the amphibious one. There was nothing else for it… I launched into the fairly mammoth task of reviewing documents and dictating a detailed and lengthy letter of instruction to an expert consulting engineer that afternoon. I logically assembled the documents which he would need to see as I worked through the various files and dictated a separate chronology to assist both of us in establishing what exactly went on during the construction project in question. I’m pleased to be able to report that the experience was most cathartic. The case is an interesting one, concerning the allegedly negligent design of a terrace in a football stadium. The claimant football club says that spectators were left unable to see over the heads of those in front, as the sightlines (I’m getting technical now) were all wrong. They claim that it was necessary to completely reinvent the wheel, so they appointed new engineers to design another terrace from scratch. They are of course now looking to our client, the defendant engineer – or more specifically its insurers – to reimburse the costs of the expensive redesign. From frog to hippo The fruits of my labour appeared before me the following week in the form of a nine page draft letter. The delay occurred because I’d been out of the office at a one day seminar, and then both year end and a bank holiday weekend had intervened. With the two weeks I now face – including internal training, a Law Society workshop, a client meeting and preparing and presenting a seminar on the dreaded topic of referral fees – and considering my part-time status, if I hadn’t tackled the project when I did, the expert’s letter could have been delayed by up to a fortnight. Not only would that be clearly unsatisfactory from the clients’ point of view (for the punctuation pedants among you, I’ve not mis-placed the apostrophe but we ordinarily have two clients – insurers and insureds) but I suspect that left untended my frog could have ballooned into something more resembling a hippo in terms of its increasingly pressing and ultimately urgent nature. Hurrah, then, for me. Surely that’s it? A career pinnacle. Not really, as my weekly To Do list system will no doubt feature its fair share of further frogs before the next year end rolls around. I will consider myself to have truly eaten one when I face up to it on a Monday at 9am, with that first cup of tea still emitting steam. I’ll let you know if that ever happens. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a further thought. I’m not the most adventurous eater, to the point that my husband remains convinced that I snubbed a romantic honeymoon gesture of his by not consuming even one of the dozen oysters he randomly ordered in the Melbourne Supper Club. At 4am. When we had jetlag, were sozzled in an appropriately celebratory manner and had already eaten plenty at more normal times throughout the day. This may be my one opportunity to put the truth out there in print – I did so eat it. Just the one. I failed in my first few attempts but I really and truly didn’t tip it into the plant pot when he nipped to the loo. Anyway I digress. I understand that frogs’ legs taste quite similar to chicken. I’m rather skeptical myself, having also heard that said about both rabbit and snails, but I do like chicken. My recently consumed metaphorical frog turned out to be something of a gastronomic delight and I would highly recommend it. Go on – you know you want to!
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