Eat that Frog is a great book that has earned bestseller status over the years. Various editions of this book by Brian Tracy International and published by Berrett-Koehler publishers have been released to date. Read along to understand more details about this life-changing personal development book. We will discuss 21 practical and actionable concepts designed for boosting your productivity, stopping procrastination, and getting things done in less time.
About Eat that Frog
Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time ISBN and its concept derive from a famous quote often associated with Mark Twain “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” According to Brian Tracy, the “frog” is the most important task you have to execute. Eating the frog first thing in the morning makes you more productive while enabling you to reach your goals fast.
The book is popularly known for its signature advice comprises various techniques like the Pareto principle, prioritizing tasks, and time blocking. When used together, these techniques reinforce the Eat That Frog Principle. These techniques have proven to be effective. However, it is worth mentioning that what is ideal for one person may not be effective for another individual.
Based on customer reviews, Eat That Frog is one of the most effective workbooks on Amazon. While reviewing the book, Micro Business Hub said;
“BEWARE: This book will have a profound impact on your working practices and the results you’ll achieve. Eat That Frog! Challenges your working practices, it explains the self-discipline needed to succeed, and [it] firmly gets to the root cause of why people procrastinate. Then it effortlessly explains how to boost your productivity once and for all.”
Understanding the 21 Strategies on the Eat That Frog Productivity Principle
The core Eat That Frog methodology may appear simple, but you will need to conduct various activities and develop various practices to succeed. Some of these strategies are things you should do before adopting the Eat That Frog principle. The others are tips you should remember as you practice the principle to prioritize the most critical tasks. The 21 strategies are:
1. Set the Table: Define and List Down Your Goals
According to Tracy, poor clarity is a significant cause of procrastination and waste. Without a clear understanding of your goals and what you want to accomplish, you will hardly determine and prioritize the tasks you want to focus on.
Think about the things you want to achieve on your own or collaborate with your supervisor to define your crucial work goals. List your goals for reference purposes. Tracy says: “A goal or objective that is not in writing is merely a wish or fantasy. Unwritten goals lead to confusion, vagueness, misdirection, and numerous mistakes.”
After writing down your goals, determine a deadline within which you want to achieve them. Goals that have no deadline lack urgency. Further, they neither have a beginning nor an end. Break your goals down into individual tasks that you should execute to facilitate goal achievement.
Create a list and include everything you will be doing to help you edge closer to achieving your goals. As new activities cross your mind, be sure to incorporate them into your list. Arrange your list based on sequence and priority. Identify and separate tasks you want to work on first and what you can work on later.
Consider laying down your plan practically by drawing circles and boxes on a piece of paper. Breaking down your tasks makes them easier to accomplish. Take action on your program immediately.
Do not just sit and do nothing. Remember, an average plan when executed is better than a robust plan where no one does anything. Execution is critical in this step. Execute a task every day and integrate that habit into your daily plan. Review your goal every evening and start your day with the biggest Frog that will likely help you achieve your most crucial goals.
2. Plan Your Day in Advance: Great Planning is Crucial for Excellent Execution
“Every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution.” ~ Brian Tracy
What is the best way to consume your most giant Frog? Break it into distinct step-by-step tasks and begin working on the first one. Here is how to go about it.
- Create a list and include every task you have to execute before beginning
- Work from your list and include new tasks as they come up
- Plan in advance. Create your list in the evening and process it before the next day. Sometimes you will wake up with big ideas to help you complete your job faster and even change your life.
Keep your list updated by transferring your uncompleted tasks in your list to the following day and include tasks you should execute the next day. You will need the following lists.
· Master List
Include all the short-term and long term you want to execute. The master list is where you write down each task or idea that crosses your mind.
· Monthly List
Write down tasks you want to execute within the month. Consider transferring tasks from your master list where necessary.
· Weekly List
Include tasks you want to execute during the week and update your list on the go.
· Daily List
Include tasks you want to execute during the day. Tick off the tasks as you finish them to get a visual image of achievement.
Whenever a new project comes up, begin by creating a list. Include every step you need to complete your project from start to finish. Write your list in soft copy on your computer or in hard copy and keep it close so that you can monitor your progress.
Every ensuing list comes from your master list. Once you plan your duties for the next day the previous night, you will know the Frog you need to deal with once you start your day at work.
3. Adopt the 80/20 Rule in Everything you do
“Resist the temptation to clear up small things first.” ~ Brian Tracy
According to the Pareto principle, 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. Many times one out of ten tasks on your list could be more effective than the remaining nine. In this case, that one task becomes the Frog you should consume first.
Paying attention to your frogs helps you focus on the 20% essential tasks. As a result, defining your goals, breaking them into small tasks, and focusing on one goal per day is critical. Failure to do so forces you to invest your entire time on the 80% of tasks that do not edge you closer to accomplishing your goals.
Remember, what you choose to do repeatedly becomes a habit, which you can hardly break. Beginning your day with low-value duties is the worst thing you can do. It exposes you to do so repeatedly, a practice that adds no value to your goals.
On this issue, author Stephen Covey says: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Instead, focus on tasks that help transform your career and life.
Invest less time on low-value activities as much as possible. One of the best strategies you can leverage to focus on 20% duties is prioritization. Your master list will keep on changing. Prioritizing helps you determine the tasks that offer the most value.
4. Recognize the Consequences: Focus on Your most Critical Tasks because they Carry the Most Weight
“Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.” ~ Brian Tracy
Understand how to envision the results of your duties to establish what your subsequent Frog is. Successful people have their future clearly defined. Their current choices and practices align with the long-term goals they seek to achieve Tracy says: “Future intent influences and often determines present actions.”
A successful person is ready to delay their satisfaction. They make short-term sacrifices to enjoy massive rewards in the long term. Evaluate your list of activities, responsibilities, and projects regularly. Tracy recommends finding “Which one project has the greatest impact on my life?”
Knowing the importance of completing every task on your to-do list is crucial. Still, you do not have to do all tasks on your list. Instead, you can delegate the necessary tasks to other people.
Questioning the results of executing or not executing a task on your list eases the identification of frogs. It helps you identify trivial tasks that you should either delegate or eliminate from your list. Identify what is most valuable to you, make it a goal, create a strategy to accomplish it, and work on your plan.
5. Practice the ABCDE Method Continually: Organize your tasks Based on Priority and Value
The ABCDE method is a robust priority-determining strategy that you can utilize daily. Begin with a wishlist of everything you have to execute and with the letters A, B, C, D, or E preceding each task on your list. The letters represent various tasks as seen below.
- A, represents tasks that you must execute. If you have multiple A tasks, consider writing them as A-1, A-2, A-3, or A-4. A-1 is your most giant Frog.
- B, are duties that you should do, also known as tadpoles.
- C, are duties whose execution would be okay.
- D, are tasks that you can comfortably delegate. If someone else can execute them, consider delegating to create time for A tasks, those that only you can execute.
- E includes trivial tasks that you can eliminate from your list. While they may have been relevant in the past, they are no longer valuable to you or your organization.
Acquire self-discipline and begin working on your A-1 tasks immediately. Eat the entire Frog without stopping until you finish. When using this method, Tracy insists that you should review your task list regularly. Remember, priorities change as time evolves, and you want to ensure your prioritization aligns with the changes.
6. Focus on Key Result Areas: Identify the Your Desired Results for the day and Execute them Until Completion
Today, numerous things can distract you from executing your tasks and achieving your desired results, especially at the office. These include numerous calls to answer and emails to respond to, meetings you need to attend, or projects to inspect.
To prevent such distractions, you should determine your “Key Result Areas.” What are your responsibilities at work? What results should you deliver? When you are conversant with the things you are accountable for, you can validate eliminating and delegating tasks incompatible with your job-specific objectives and tasks. To identify key result areas, you should:
- List down the key results you need to complete a high-quality job
- Rank yourself between 1-10 on each task, with one being where you are performing exceptionally well and ten where you are performing dismally.
Your most insufficient key result area initiates a phase where you can utilize all your abilities and skills. Tracy recommends asking yourself: “What one skill if I did it excellently would have the greatest positive impact on my career?” Leverage this question as a guiding principle for your career. Seek answers from your family, boss, friends, and coworkers. After finding an answer, consider doing everything possible to improve your performance in that particular area.
7. The Law of Forced Efficiency: You may not have Enough Time to Execute Every Task, but You Have Sufficient Time to Execute Important Tasks
“Identify the three things that you do in your work that account for 90% of your contribution and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life” ~ Brian Tracy.
In this section, also known as the law of three, Tracy says you cannot eat every Frog and tadpole in your pond. However, you can satisfactorily consume the ugliest and biggest Frog you have. To maintain focus, consider asking yourself the following questions.
“What are my highest value activities?”
“What is the most valuable use of my time right now?”
“Is there something that I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference?”
8. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin: Appropriate Advance Preparation Promotes Excellent Performance
One of the components of preparations for your work is planning your next day from the previous evening. You will also need excellent time blocking skills to eat that Frog without distractions. To make your work easier, ensure you have all the necessary tools you need to execute the job comfortably.
You only need minimal mental motivation to start working on your high-value tasks. Clear your workspace or desk to ensure you have only one task to tackle. Prepare your workspace to make it conducive, attractive, and comfortable to work for prolonged periods.
When you are ready to start working, adopt high-performance body language. Sit forward, upright, and keep off the back of your chair. Select your most important task and work on it until completion.
9. Do Your Homework: Upgrade Your Skills to Facilitate the Execution of Key Tasks, and You will Complete them Faster
The more knowledgeable and skilled you become at your essential tasks, the faster you start them, and the sooner you get them done. ~ Brian Tracy
Learning never stops. Strive to learn and master more skills about your craft. Familiarizing yourself with consuming a specific frog makes you highly likely to execute it faster and more effectively.
Upgrading your skills is a critical personal productivity concept that you cannot ignore. Remember, one of the leading reasons for procrastination is lack of confidence, feeling inadequate, and the inability to execute tasks in a specific critical area. Such characteristics can discourage you from embarking on the task.
As the world evolves and new skills emerge, your current skills and knowledge fade away at an alarming rate. Pat Riley, a basketball coach, noted that: “Anytime you stop striving to get better, you’re bound to get worse.”
· Learn as much as Possible
Among the most crucial time management strategies is that you become more competent in your key tasks. Professional and personal improvement can be a great time saver. Becoming better at specific tasks and gaining key skills motivates you to begin a task.
The more you execute the task, the more enthusiastic and energetic you become. When you are confident of executing a task well, then procrastination becomes a thing of the past. Set an objective; create a plan, and start developing and enhancing your ability in specific areas by:
- Reading about your specific field for one hour daily where possible
- Attend business meetings and conventions affiliated with your occupation or profession
- Enroll in every seminar or course on key skills
- Listen to educational audiobooks on your way to or from work
- Attend workshops and sessions, listen attentively and take down notes
Do not allow lack of ability or weakness to hinder you. Remember, everything can be learned, and learning is one of the most effective methods of increasing your knowledge and skills.
10. Leverage Your Special Talents: Focus on the Things you are good at
“Determine exactly what it is that you are very good at doing, or could be very good at, and throw your whole heart into doing those specific things very, very well” ~ Brian Tracy.
According to Tracy, everybody has unique skills they can leverage to consume some frogs better and faster than others. To accomplish your goals faster, you need to determine your strengths or talents and focus your goals around them.
Tracy says that doing the things you love and are good at can boost your earning ability significantly. To determine your strengths or talents, ask yourself the following questions.
- What is it that I do exceptionally well?
- What responsibilities can I attribute most of my previous success to?
- If I had to execute any task, what would it be?
Focus on executing and finishing the essential tasks that align with your strengths. Your unique abilities and talents will help you make a considerable contribution. While you cannot execute every task, you can embark on the few duties that you do best.
11. Identify Your Key Constraints: Determine your Bottlenecks and Focus on Eliminating them
“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
In between your tasks and goals, seek to determine constraints you have to counter before accomplishing your crucial goal. Do so by asking yourself the following questions: What is stopping you from accomplishing your goals? What controls the speed at which you move from step 1 towards your goals?
What determines the speed at which you accomplish your objectives? What stands against you and consuming the frogs that matter? Why haven’t you accomplished your goals yet? As you work towards achieving your goals and developing personal effectiveness and productivity, you will need to ask yourself these questions.
· Eliminating the Constraints
After identifying your limiting factors, work towards eliminating them. Be on the lookout for constraints in both small and large tasks. Remember, one task defines how rapidly you can accomplish your objectives and complete the task at hand. Ask yourself what it is and focus your mental energy on that specific area. Doing so can be the most productive strategy for utilizing your talents and time.
12. Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time: Complete One Task a Step at a Time to Accomplish the most Complex and Biggest Task Effectively
“Persons with comparatively moderate powers will accomplish much if they apply themselves wholly and indefatigably to one thing at a time.” Samuel Smiles
One of the ideal strategies to help you stop procrastinating is to focus on one manageable task. Tracy says the best way to consume a giant complex frog is to take a bite at a time. Be disciplined enough to execute your tasks a step at a time.
Strive to proceed as far as you can see, and that way, you will create a path to see clearly and move further. Create a list of all the steps you should undertake before completing your task, and start by working and completing one task on your list before proceeding to the next.
Lao-tzu, a Chinese developer, said: “A journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step.” Leverage this strategy to get more done while overcoming procrastination.
13. Put the Pressure on Yourself: Execute Your Important Tasks as Though you Need to Complete them Before Embarking on a Long International Journey
“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.” Thomas Edison
Muster the art of pressurizing yourself and not waiting for someone to push you into executing your tasks. Select your frogs and embark on eating them based on priority. Remember, the standards you create for your habits and work should be higher than what someone else can develop for you.
Assume you were to embark on a long journey out of town. What task would you execute before your trip? Identify the task and work on it to completion. Create sub-deadlines and deadlines for each of your tasks, stick to them, and sometimes work towards breaking them.
Write each step of a critical task before determining the hours and minutes you need to execute each phase. Include time blocks on your weekly and daily calendars to facilitate smooth, distraction-free work.
14. Maximize Your Powers
Often, the way you talk to yourself every day determines whether your emotions will be positive or negative. Things that happen to you do not determine how you feel, but how you translate your circumstances plays a critical role in your feelings.
To maintain motivation, choose to be optimistic. Opt to respond positively to the reactions, actions, and words from situations and people around you. Do not allow the inevitable day-to-day challenges to affect your emotions and mood.
· Regulate Your Inner Conversations
The amount of respect you have for yourself affects your persistence and motivational levels. Hold positive conversations within yourself to enhance your self-esteem. Reassure yourself repeatedly with statements like “I like myself” until you start believing it and behaving like a high-performance personality individual.
To maintain motivation within yourself and counter fear and feelings of self-doubt, always say, “I am capable.” Whenever someone seeks to know how you are doing, tell them “I feel tremendous” regardless of what you are going through.
Always maintain an upbeat and cheerful mood. In the words of Viktor Frankl, author of one of the best books in the market, Man’s Search for Meaning, “The last of the human freedoms [is] to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
Instead of sharing your problems, keep them within yourself. Ed Foreman, a speaker humorist, tells you that: “You should never share your problems with others because 80 percent of people don’t care about them anyway, and the other 20 percent are kind of glad that you’ve got them in the first place.” Here are some tips to help you enhance your Powers
- There are particular times of the day when you are most productive. Identify such moments and leverage them to focus on your most complex and essential tasks.
- Where possible, take an entire day off weekly and go on vacation at least once a year.
- Consider going to bed early whenever possible
- Monitor your diet and exercise regularly
15. Motivate Yourself into Action: If you do not Cheer Yourself Up, No One Will. Be Optimistic and Seek Solutions Instead of Problems
To operate at your best, you need to cheer yourself up. Create a schedule of encouraging and coaching yourself to at the peak of your game. To remain motivated, you can:
- Identify the good in all situation
- Seek solutions to every problem you encounter
- Identify valuable lessons in every challenge
- Accept liability for yourself and the things that occur to you
- Opt for progress instead of excuses
- Do not blame or criticize other people for anything
- Ensure your energy and thoughts are focused forward before letting everything else go
Visualize your objectives continually and converse with yourself positively. Doing so leaves you feeling energized and focused. In the end, you will look forward to starting and keep working on your tasks to completion.
16. Practice Creative Procrastination
You can’t do everything. Learn to delay low-value tasks intentionally, so you have enough time to do the few things that count
“Make time for getting big tasks done every day. Plan your daily workload. Single out the relatively few small jobs that absolutely must be done immediately in the morning. Then go directly to the big tasks and pursue them to completion.” Boardroom Reports
According to Tracy “Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”
Often, procrastination is considered a bad thing because people usually procrastinate on their frogs. Your frogs can be complex, big tasks, and putting them off could be easy. On the other hand, completing low-value tasks is easy; so, many people focus on completing and ticking them off fast from their list.
Instead of procrastinating on your frogs, Tracy recommends intentionally procrastinating on 80% of your tasks. Creative procrastination involves delaying the consumption of less ugly or smaller frogs. Seeing that procrastination is inevitable, consider procrastinating low-value activities.
Invest your life and time in high-value activities only. According to Tracy, you need to ask yourself: “If I was not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I get into it again today?” If your answer is no, consider eliminating the task or placing it under your creative procrastination section.
17. Avoid Technology-based Distractions
Technology is critical for keeping you productive, but sometimes it can become your worst enemy, especially if you misuse it. If you are spending more time checking emails or phone notifications instead of executing essential tasks, consider rethinking your use of technology.
Keep your relationship with technology under control and choose to unchain yourself from your computer or mobile gadget. Brain Tracy says: “Use technology to improve the quality of your communications but do not allow yourself to be a slave to it. Learn to turn things off and keep them off occasionally.”
18. Slice and Dice the Task: Break complex and Large Tasks down into Small Manageable Pieces
Once you have defined your goals and sliced them into small actionable tasks, Tracy says you should break them further into smaller components as much as possible. Executing and completing a minor task is easier because the idea of embarking on the task will not overpower you.
For example, assuming you are planning to earn $25,000 more at the end of the year. To accomplish that, you may have to get a new job. One of the things you should do to edge closer to landing your dream job is updating your profile on LinkedIn. That can be a lot of work, but you can break it into smaller tasks.
In the end, your to-do list will have smaller but manageable tasks, such as “highlighting my duties and achievements in my current position”, “requesting my colleagues for recommendations”, or “summarizing my LinkedIn profile.” When your tasks seem overpowering, you can execute them through the following techniques.
· The Salami Slice Technique
Outline the task in detail and opt to execute one slice at a time. This process is similar to consuming a salami roll, a slice at a time. By focusing on one small component when doing a small task, you will be encouraged to start working on subsequent pieces. Soon, the entire task will be complete without you noticing it.
· The Swiss Cheese
Create a hole into your task, similar to a hole in a Swiss block cheese. You will Swiss cheese a task when you choose to work on it for a particular time which can be anything between five and ten minutes before stopping to focus on something else. After embarking on the process, you develop a sense of urgency and a feeling of achievement, which will motivate you to keep doing it to completion.
19. Create Large Chunks of Time
Work on large tasks at scheduled times. Important tasks need huge chunks of continuous-time to finish. Consider planning your day in advance and schedule time blocks to focus on a specific task. Acquire self-discipline to maintain your time blocks within which you should eliminate all distractions and work until you complete the task.
20. Develop a Sense of Urgency: Move Swiftly when Executing Your Important Tasks
Working on high-value tasks swiftly places you in the same category as successful people. Developing a sense of urgency gives you the desire and inner push to execute the task swiftly and complete it fast.
During this phase, you will develop a preference for action. Instead of discussing things you plan to do; you will devise targeted steps to start working immediately. Adopt a sense of urgency in all your tasks today.
If you are often procrastinating in a particular area, consider adopting fast action in that specific area. Once you identify a problem or see an opportunity, take action fast and when you have a task, complete it as fast as possible.
21. Single Handle Every Task: Execute one Task to Completion before Embarking on Subsequent Ones
Single handling involves working on one task without distractions until you complete it. Instead of falling for temptations to stop or focus on other tasks, repeat the words back to work.
Directing your entire mind on the task can help you complete it in half the scheduled time. Remember, the more you concentrate on a single task non-stop, the more efficient you become. Further, you will execute more high-quality tasks in less time. Persistence is a critical component of self-discipline.
The more persistent you are on a complex task, the more you will respect yourself and the higher your self-esteem will be. The key here is to identify the most critical task you could focus on each moment before eating the Frog.
Eat That Frog is a worthy read for everybody. Take your time to read it and chart your way towards an effective, productive, and procrastination-free world.
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