‘Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’ – by Brian Tracy has been on my reading list ever since I heard about the concept of Eat That Frog.
Here’s the introduction on back cover of the book:
Get More of the Important Things Done Today
There just isn’t enough time for everything on our ‘To Do’ list – and there never will be. Successful people don’t try to do everything. They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.
There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Using ‘eat that frog’ as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life – Eat That Frog! Shows you how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize your day. You’ll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done.
31 Lessons on Personal Effectiveness from ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracy
- 1. Work On Your Most Important Task
Identify and work on your most important task – one which will have maximum positive impact on you / your life (your frog) first thing in the morning. Make this a habit.
- 2. Learn From Experts
Find out what experts are doing and do the same thing till you get the same results. People who do things better than you aren’t necessarily better than you. They just do things better/differently.
- 3. Be Selective
Don’t work on whatever comes up. Choose what you are going to work on.
- 4. Don’t Think; Just Do
Don’t spend too much time thinking about important tasks you don’t like. Letting the task be or ignoring it or staring it is not going to make the task any easier. Just get going. Begin the task and complete it without thinking much about it.
- 5. Get Addicted in a Positive Way
Whenever you finish your most important/difficult tasks, endorphins get released in your brain – they make you feel good about yourself. Get addicted to these endorphins. Get addicted to the rush and satisfaction of completing important tasks.
- 6. Get Clear
Lack of clarity leads to procrastination. When you know clearly what you are supposed to do and why, it motivates you and pushes you forward to take the next step towards your goals.
- 7. Plan In Advance – The 10/90 Rule of Personal Effectiveness
10% of time you spend in planning and organizing your work before you begin will save 90% of time in getting the job done once you get started. Take some time to plan your work before beginning your day (preferably plan the night before).
Think on Paper.
- 8. Work From A List
Always work from a list. You increase your productivity and output by 25% once you start doing everything from your list. Create a master list, monthly list, weekly list and daily list.
- 9. Follow The 80-20 Rule
As per the 80-20 Rule, 20% of tasks you do give you 80% of results. If you have 10 items to do, 2 items from that will be worth way more than the rest 8 items put together. What are those 2 items for you?
All 10 items from your list can take same amount of time. However, each item gives different results. The average person procrastinates on the 2 items – on the 20% which gives you most results. What activities are you focusing on?
Refuse to work on tasks which fall under the 80% until you are done working on the 20%
- 10. Obey The Law of Forced Efficiency
The law of forced efficiency says that “There is never enough time to do everything, but always enough time to do the most important thing.” Work on things that matter since no matter how much you do, you will always leave some tasks pending.
- 11. Ask Yourself These Three Questions for Maximum Productivity
- 1. What are my highest value activities?
- 2. What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference?
- 3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
- 12. Procrastinate Creatively … Procrastinate On Purpose
There is never going to be enough time for you to do everything on your list. Most people procrastinate unconsciously – by choosing to do certain things, they procrastinate the rest of things. Because of procrastinating without thinking, they procrastinate on their most important tasks – ones which could have a greater positive impact on their lives and careers. Instead, procrastinate knowingly, procrastinate deliberately on activities which produce low or negligible results.
- 13. Say No
No is the most powerful word in time management, the most important word in your vocabulary – need I say more?
- 14. Use The ABCDE Method Continually
Assign a A,B,C,D or E to each task based on it’s importance. Prioritize tasks under each letter by setting a numerical sequence. Follow the Letter – Number combination. Never pick a B activity when A is yet undone. Never pick a C activity when B is yet to be done … so on and so forth.
- A consists of all your frogs
- B consists of all ‘should do’ activities
- C consists of ‘nice to get done’ activities
- D consists of tasks which should be delegated
- E consists of tasks which should be eliminated
Identify and determine those results that you absolutely, positively have to get to do your job well, and work on them all day long.
Each job will have 5-7 key result areas. Your weakest key result area is the limit at which you can use all your skills and abilities (similar to the strength of a chain is in it’s weakest link). To get better results, strengthen your weak areas.
Write down your three most important goals in life right now in 30 seconds. Whether you are given 30 seconds or 30 minutes, the answer is usually the same. This is because when you are given only 30 seconds, your subconscious kicks in and gives you the answer you need quickly.
The Law Of Three can be applied anywhere in your life. Follow this exercise – write down answers to each of these questions in 30 seconds … be quick
- 1. What are your three most important business or career goals right now?
- 2. What are your three most important family or relationship goals right now?
- 3. What are your three most important financial goals right now?
- 4. What are your three most important health goals right now?
- 5. What are your three most important personal and professional development goals right now?
- 6. What are your three most important social and community goals right now?
- 7. What are your three biggest problems or concerns in life right now?
Prepare thoroughly before you begin: Have everything you need at hand before you start. Assemble all the papers, information, tools, work materials, and numbers you might require so that you can get started and keep going.
How do you finish a huge project? One step at a time. You can complete any kind of project – no matter how overwhelming if you focus on completing just one step at a time.
Feeling of inadequacy, lack of confidence leads to procrastination. Work on mastering your field, your core competencies to increase productivity. Lead your field.
- Three Steps To Mastery
- 1. Read at least one hour
- 2. Upgrade your skills. Learn from experts, take seminars/courses/ workshops etc … anything which can keep you updated. Dedicate yourself to become one of the most knowledgeable and competent person in your field
- 3. Make most of your driving time. Listen to audio programs in your car.
What is holding you back? Identify a single major constraint which is slowing you down or is the reason you procrastinate. Put all your energy into eliminating that constraint.
Apply the 80-20 rule to constraints. 80% of constraints usually are internal – which means they are workable. Identify the top 20% of constraints amongst these and get set to remove them.
Deadlines beat procrastination and get you going. Set imaginary deadlines if you must. And see how fast you eat your frogs.
Figure out when are you physically and mentally most productive. Schedule your important and tough tasks at this time.
Sleep well, eat well and work out well. How rested and physically fit you are directly impacts the quantity and quality of your work.
Psychologist Nathaniel Branden defines self esteem as “the reputation you have with yourself”. How you feel about yourself plays a central role in how you perform. Control your inner dialogue. Use positive affirmations. Don’t say/think things which make you doubt yourself or make you fearful.
Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism states that optimism is the most important quality you can develop for personal and professional success. Optimism can be learned through practice and repetition. Here are four special behaviors all optimists have –
- 1. Look for good in all situations
- 2. Seek valuable lesson in every set back or difficulty
- 3. Look for solution to every problem
- 4. Think and talk continually about your goals
Technology if used unwisely can be a huge time waster. Don’t get addicted to technology. Detaching from technology from time to time can help you center and focus on things that matter.
Create zones of silence during your day to day activities. Schedule for technology free hour in morning and noon. It will help you to center and relax your mind. It will help you to recharge your batteries.
You can take this further and schedule for technology free days as well.
There are two ways to use the slice and dice approach to work on huge projects –
- 1. Work on one slice of project per day and then carry on with other activities.
- 2. Work for one slice of time (15 min, 30 mins, 1 hour … whatever time you decide) and then carry on with other activities.
Over a period of time, you will be able to complete the project without experiencing a lot of resistance from your side.
Identify when do you have large chunks of free time and assign it to important tasks. Plan the rest of tasks around this time. Schedule activities to ensure they get done.
Flight time, waiting time etc are what author refers to as gifts of time. You get free, undisturbed time while flying or waiting. Plan in advance what work you can accomplish at times like this.
Once you start a task, don’t stop till you are 100% done. Work with single focus. When you have identified and are working on your most important task, doing anything else in between is a waste of time. Discipline yourself to work without distraction on the task in hand till it is 100% completed.
You can read entire first chapter of the book Eat That Frog! for free over here
More Books by Brian Tracy: