Almost everyone today has too much to do and too little time. In “Eat that Frog!”, Brian Tracy presents 21 tips to help you stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. This practical action guide is built on 30 years of time-management study–it’s for anyone who feels overwhelmed or wants to be more effective in planning, prioritizing and achieving more results in less time. In this summary, we’ll highlight the 21 points, and zoom in on a few of them in detail.
The key to success is not to try to do everything, but to focus fully on the most vital tasks, take action, and complete them well. The analogy of eating frogs comes from Mark Twain, who says that if you can start your morning by eating a live frog, you’d have tackled the worst thing that can happen that day. Your frog is your most crucial task—what you’re most likely to defer, yet can create the biggest impact on your outcomes.
To form any new habit (including the habit of eating frogs), you need the 3Ds of New Habit Formation: Make a decision to build the habit of completing tasks, have the discipline to keep applying the ideas in this book, and have the determination to persevere until the habits become an integral part of who you are.
21 Ways to Eat that Frog
Rather then dwell on theory or concepts, Tracy zooms in on actionable tips, that you can apply instantly. Use the tips and take action immediately, as that’s the only way to get results. We’ll now zoom in on a few of the tips in more detail. Do get more details from the book or our full book summary.
1. SET THE TABLE
To identify your frog, you first need clarity on what you truly want. Clarity helps you to overcome procrastination and take concrete action, and it’s probably the most critical productivity ingredient. One secret is to think on paper. People with clear, written goals can accomplish 5-10 times as much as others. Use these 7 steps to set and achieve goals:• Decide specifically what you want.
• Write it down. Think on paper and make it tangible.
• Set a deadline for the goal, with sub-deadlines as needed.
•List down everything you may need to do to achieve your goal.
• Break things down into individual tasks, and arrange them in priority and sequence to form a plan.
• Take action immediately. No amount of thinking can outdo action.
• Do something everyday, however big or small, to move yourself toward your major goal. Don’t miss even 1 day.
Getting Started: Set the Table
Start by listing 10 goals for the next year, writing them in present tense as if the year has passed and they’re a reality, e.g. “I weigh X pounds”. Select 1 goal that will create the biggest positive impact, write it down separately and apply the steps above to take action daily.
2. PLAN EVERY DAY IN ADVANCE
The 10/90 Rule says that the first 10% of time used to plan your work can save you 90% of the execution time once you start. One minute of planning can save you 10 mins of execution time, and help you improve your “return on energy”. By setting aside 10-12 mins for planning, you can save 2 hours of execution the next day.
• Every night, list down all the items you must complete the next day. Allow your subconscious mind to work on the list while you sleep, so you can wake up with new ideas on how to achieve them.
• Use different lists, including a master list (of all the possible tasks you must do at some point), a monthly list (for the month ahead), a weekly list (for the week ahead), and a daily list (for the next day).
• Tick off the items as you complete them, to motivate and energize yourself on your progress.
Getting Started: Plan your Day
From today, plan out each day, week and month in advance. Work from prioritised lists, starting with what you must do in the next 24 hours.
3. APPLY THE 80/20 RULE TO EVERYTHING
Many people focus on their number of tasks and amount of activity, rather than the importance of the tasks or the achievements. The Pareto Principle or 80/20 Principle says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.
• Find the 1 top task that’s worth the other tasks combined—this is the frog you must eat first. Often, this is also the most difficult and complex task you’ll tend to procrastinate on.
• The crux of time management is to control your sequence of events, or what you do next. Resist the temptation to clear the small tasks first; instead, start your day by asking, “Is this task in the top 20% or bottom 80% of my activities?”, and focus only on the most vital tasks first. Completing an important job need not take more time than an unimportant one, but it’ll yield greater satisfaction.
Getting Started: Apply the 80/20 Rule
List down all your key goals, responsibilities, projects and activities. Identify the top 10-20% and always work on them first.
4. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES
Successful people are able to look 10 or 20 years into the future, and make decisions today that are consistent with their desired long-term future, including making short-term sacrifices. When considering whether to do or not do something, ask yourself if it has any consequences for your long-term vision. Rather than set deadlines for everything and feel stressed for missing most of them, focus on the most important task, and give it 20% extra time, so you can do it really well. Use these 3 questions to find your focus:
• Which are my activities with highest-value?
• What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference? [This question originated from Peter Drucker.] • What’s the most valuable use of my time right now?
Getting Started: Focus on Consequences
Keep asking: What’s the one thing which, if I did really well, could create the biggest positive impact in my work and life? Apply this question to find the best thing to do every hour, starting right now.
Here’s a quick overview of all 21 ways to Eat the Frog, to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Do get a copy of the book or our full book summary for the details and actionable tips for Eat that Frog–21 Great Ways To Stop Procrastinating And Get More Done In Less Time:
1. Set the Table
2. Plan Each Day in Advance
3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything
4. Consider the Consequences
5. Apply Creative Procrastination
6. Use the ABCDE Method
7. Focus On Key Result Areas
8. Apply The Law Of Three
9. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin
10. Take It One Step at a Time
11. Upgrade Your Key Skills
12. Leverage Your Special Talents
13. Identify Your Key Constraints
14. Apply Pressure On Yourself
15. Maximize Your Personal Powers
16. Motivate Yourself Into Action
17. Stop Technological Time Drain
18. Slice And Dice The Task
19. Create Large Chunks Of Time
20. Develop A Sense Of Urgency
21. Single-Handle Every Task
Other Details in “Eat that Frog!”
This is a succinct, easy-to-read book that breaks down what it means to eat your frog first thing daily. Tracy ends the book with a recap of the 21 rules/principles. By applying them until they’re a part of you, you can enjoy great results and success, as well as a sense of personal power and satisfaction. The key is to start taking action immediately.
Overcome procrastination and achieve more in less time!