‘Swallow your frogs’ is a tip found in many articles about how to be efficient, meaning you should tackle the important task that you are dreading the most as soon as you start work in order to have the satisfaction of having tricked procrastination and achieved something concrete that you can proceed to cross off your to-do list. I’ve often followed that advice and generally it works for me.
However, in the past few months, I’ve been struggling with stress and exhaustion. I realised that a great deal of the tasks I needed to do at work daily had turned into ‘frogs’. I kept hoping that the frogs linked to my job position would eventually turn into princes, or at least become more manageable as I gained experience, but they didn’t and I felt more and more overwhelmed.
The frogs were also following me home, in the evenings I couldn’t switch off the constant croaking of all the work thoughts and worries going on in my head and I sometimes lay awake at night. I found it increasingly hard to focus and make any type of decision, big or small, and anxiety started rearing its head. Things that previously I considered routine tasks now felt complex and inachievable. It was like my mind was being overtaken by a cane toad invasion.
For those not familiar with the cane toad, it is a species that was introduced in Australia in the 1930s in an attempt to eradicate pests in sugar cane fields, but instead became a pest itself because its venom kills any animal that attemps to eat it, meaning it has no natural predators. Over the years, it has multiplied and is upstoppably making its way across the whole of Australia doing devastating damage to local ecosystems.
The cane toads of my mind were advancing beyond my boundaries, feasting off long meetings, stress, incessant skype messages and other notifications, frustrations and extreme self-doubt. Though I did my best to regularly practice mindfulness, breathe and take care of myself, it was like those efforts were native marsupials being wiped out by the cane toads.
So after pushing myself for several months to continue working, while attempting to cover up the shame of being less efficient and struggling to beat the evil cane toads in my mind, I’ve decided to take time out to recover. I’m not entirely sure how I will transform the cane toads back to frogs or even into cuddly koalas, I am going to figure it out step by step over the next weeks and months. For now rest and self-care are my priority.
By the way, I don’t know what species the animal in the photo is. It was taken in Thailand, I’d love to know more about it if anyone knows:)