Gillian Harvey: Why I now eat frogs for breakfast

Read the latest column from freelance writer, author and mum-of-five Gillian Harvey.

This morning, I ate frogs for breakfast.

No, I don’t mean sprinkled over my habitual bowl of porridge. I didn’t fry them up with a couple of eggs and douse them in ketchup. And I certainly didn’t choke down amphibian flavour jam.

What I mean is I turned my day on its head: I got the worst part over with first.

I’m one of those people who’s constantly busy. There are never enough hours in the day to do what I’d actually like to do. Which means I’m always flying by the seat of my pants – and never quite reach the end of my ‘to do’ list.

But, the other day, I interviewed a therapist for an article I was writing. We talked about stress and fitting everything in to the day, and she told me: “people who are constantly busy are usually avoiding something.”

It was a penny drop moment. Sure I’m always busy. But was I really too busy to do the annoying, niggly jobs at the bottom of my ‘to do’ list. Really?

Or was I just creating a distraction?

The psychologist in question had no idea her words had struck a personal chord. But something about them stayed with me. 

Some of my ‘jobs’ include doing things I love – writing for example. Or researching. Or networking on Twitter (oh, OK, mucking about on Twitter). And there are other things ‘to do’ that I don’t mind. Hanging out with the kids has its moments. And I’m not adverse to grocery shopping or even cooking if I’m in the mood.

The thing I hate most is paperwork. This generally means that even on a good day, my desk is scattered with lists and print-outs and unopened letters and bank statements. And the reminders to myself that I should ‘sort money’ or ‘do accounts’ are transferred from one to-do list to the next, daily.

I know what I’m doing. I probably even realise when I’m jotting it down that I have no intention of really getting around to it. “I must be more organised!” I’ll say to Ray in the evening. Or “I never have enough time to do everything!”

Truth is, that I’m self-sabotaging. Because my lack of admin can sometimes mean I come a cropper. Every three months, I have to spend a day catching up and cursing. And I sometimes forget important things like interviews, or birthday cards or to email someone back. 

So today I got up with new vigour. I sat at my desk and made myself do the accounts. Then I tackled my filing pile. And believe it or not, I got to the bottom of my inbox and cleared out everything that wasn’t relevant. 

And, you know what? It was pretty straightforward. Dull, but doable. And when I’d finished, I felt great. Determined to turn over a whole new leaf.

That’s not to say there won’t be days when I get overwhelmed, or where sudden deadlines mean certain tasks have to be pushed to the back of the queue.

Gillian Harvey is a writer and mum-of-five. Her debut novel Everything is Fine is out now.