EAT THAT FROG! --- 21 GREAT WAYS TO STOP PROCRASTINATING AND
GET MORE DONE IN LESS TIME by Brian Tracy. Berrett-Koehler, 2001
INTRODUCTION --- Eat that frog! (p1-6)
Your ability to select your most important task at each moment, and then to start on that task and get it done both quickly and well, will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop!
1) Set the table (p7-12)
If you develop the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks completed quickly, you will run circles around a genius who talks a lot and makes wonderful plans but gets very little done.
An old saying is that "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!" Your "FROG" is the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it now! It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.
It has also been said that "If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first!" This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else.
You can think of it as a "TEST" or personal challenge. You must resist the temptation to start with the easier task! You must continually remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is your choice of what you will do immediately and what you will do later --- if you do it at all!
One final assumption is "If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!"
MAIN IDEA = The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is for you to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. You must develop the routine of "eating your frog" before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it!
Successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete.
In the business world, you are paid and promoted for getting specific, measurable results. You are paid for making a valuable contribution that is expected of you. But many employees confuse activity with accomplishment and this causes one of the biggest problems in organizations today, which is failure to execute!
RULE 1 --- Think on paper!
2) Plan every day in advance (p13-18)
Step 1 = Decide exactly what you want
RULE 2 --- One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all!
Step 2 = Write it down!
Step 3 = Set a deadline on your goal
Step 4 = Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal
Step 5 = Organize the list into a plan
Step 6 = Take action on your plan immediately!
Step 7 = Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal
Clear written goals have a wonderful effect on your thinking. They can motivate you and galvanize you into action. They can stimulate your creativity and release your energy. They can help you overcome procrastination as much as any other factor. Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment.
Once you start moving, keep moving! Don't stop. This decision, this discipline alone, can make you one of the most productive and successful people of your generation!
ACTION EXERCISE = Begin today to plan every day, week, and month in advance. Take a notepad or sheet of paper and make a list of everything you have to do in the next 24 hours.
3) Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything --- "We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright! Goethe quote (p19-23)
RULE = Resist the temptation to clear up small things first! (p21)
4) Consider the consequences (p25-29)
Time management is really "life management" or personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events in your life. You are always "free to choose" the task that you will do next! Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work!
RULE = Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making! (p26)
RULE = Future intent influences and often determines present actions! (p27)
ACTION EXERCISE = Review your list of tasks, activities, and projects regularly and ask yourself: "Which one project or activity, if you did it in an excellent and timely fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on your life?"
5) Continually practice the powerful "ABCDE Method" or priority-setting technique that you can use every single day! The power of this technique lies in its simplicity. Start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper by placing an "A, B, C, D, or E before each item on your list --- before you begin the first task. (p31-34)
6) Focus on "key result areas" (p35-40)
RULE = Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities. (p38)
ACTION EXERCISE = Identify the key result areas of your work. What are they? Write down the key results you have to achieve to do your job in an excellent fashion.
7) Obey the law of forced efficiency (p41-45)
LAW OF FORCED EFFICIENCY = There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing! (p41)
8) Prepare thoroughly before you begin (p47-50)
RULE = There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do. (p42)
ACTION EXERCISE = Your most powerful thinking tool for success is your ability to discriminate between one priority and another. By taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and think about your work and activities, you can get wonderful ideas and insights!
ACTION EXERCISE =
9) Do your homework (p51-55)
RULE = Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field. (p52)
10) Leverage your special talents (p57-60)
ACTION EXERCISE = Resolve today to become a "do-it-yourself" project! Learn the key skills and core competencies that you will need to have in the future to lead your field. Whatever they are, set a goal, make a plan, and begin to develop and increase your ability in those areas. Resolve to be the very best at what you do!
ACTION EXERCISE = Continually ask yourself these key questions. What are you really good at? What do you enjoy most about your work? What was most responsible for your past success? If you could do any job at all, what would it be? Whatever your answers, get started today!
11) Identify your key constraints (p61-65)
Successful people always begin the analysis of constraints by asking the question, "What is it in you that is holding you back?"
They accept complete responsibility and look to themselves for both the cause and the cure of their problems.
12) Take it one oil barrel at at time (p67-70)
ACTION EXERCISE = Identify your most important goal in life today. What is it? What one goal, if you achieved it, would have the greatest positive effect on your life? What one career accomplishment would have the greatest positive impact on your work life? Also, Why have you not accomplished the goal by now? What is it in yourself that is holding you back? Whatever your answers, take action immediately. Do something! Do anything! Get started!
ACTION EXERCISE = Select any goal, task, or project in your life where you have been procrastinating and take just one step toward accomplishing it immediately. Sometimes, all you need to do to get started is to sit down and make a list of all the steps you will need to take to eventually complete the task. Just start and complete one item on the list, and then one more, and so on. You will be amazed at what you will eventually accomplish!
13) Put the pressure on yourself (p71-74)
ACTION EXERCISE = Set deadlines and subdeadlines on every task and activity. Create your own "forcing system" by raising the bar on yourself. Once you have set yourself a deadline, stick to it and even try to beat it! Write out every step of a major job or project before you begin. Then determine how many minutes and hours it will require to accomplish each phase. Organize your daily and weekly calendars to create time segments when you work exclusively on these tasks.
14) Maximize your personal powers (p75-79)
ACTION EXERCISE = Make an analysis of your current energy levels and your daily health habits. Resolve today to improve your levels of health and energy by asking the following questions:
15) Motivate yourself into action (p81-84)
 What are you doing physically that you should do more of?
 What are you doing that you should do less of?
 What are you doing that you should START DOING --- if you want to perform at your best?
What are you doing today that affects your health that you should STOP DOING altogether?
Whatever your answers are to these questions, TAKE ACTIONS TODAY!
ACTION EXERCISE =
16) Practice creative procrastination (p85-88)
RULE = You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you dicontinue lower value activities! (p21)
17) Do the most difficult task first (p89-92)
One of the most powerful of all words in time management is the word "NO!" You can say "NO" to anything that is not a high-value use of your time and your life!
ACTION EXERCISE = Practice "zero-based thinking" in every part of your life. Ask yourself continually, 'If you were not doing this already, knowing what you now know, would you get into it again today? Examine eacy of your personal and work activities and evaluate it based on your situation today. If it is something you would not start up again today, knowing what you now know, it is a prime candidate for abandonment or creative procrastination.
ACTION EXERCISE = See yourself as a "work in progress!"
18) Slice and dice the task --- how to "swiss cheese" and "salami slice" your big work tasks for a specific time period.(p93-96)
ACTION EXERCISE = Happy, successful people are action oriented and they take on large, complex, multitask jobs.
19) Create large chunks of time to concentrate on specific goals or projects (p97-100)
ACTION EXERCISE = Make every minute count! Think continually of different ways that you can save, schedule, and consolidate large chunks of time. Use this chunk of time to work on important tasks with the most significant long-term consequences. Most of all, keep focused on the most important results for which you are responsible!
20) Develop a sense of urgency (p101-104)
ACTION EXERCISE = Resolve today to develop a sense of urgency in everything you do. Select one area where you have a tendency to procrastinate and make a decision to develop the habit of "fast action" in that area. Take action immediately when you see an opportunity or a problem. When you are given a task or responsibility, do it quickly and report back fast. You will be amazed at how much better you will feeel and how much more you will get done!
21) Single handle every task --- Every bit of planning, prioritizing, and organizing comes down to this simple concept. The key to high levels of performance and personal productivity is the ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete! (p105-108)
ACTION EXERCISE = Take action!! Resolve today to select the most important task or project that you could complete and then launch into it immediately. (p108)
CONCLUSION --- Putting it all together (p109-113)
The key to happiness, satisfaction, great success, and a wonderful feeling of personal power and effectiveness is for you to develop the habit of eating your frog first thing every day when you start work! Fortunately, this is a learnable skill that you can acquire through repetition. When this habit of starting on your most important task first is developed, your success is assured.
Get more things done faster by learning the following 21 rules and principles until they are ingrained in your thinking and actions:
Go to: Achievement Issue at Work
Go to: Performance Issue at Work
Go to: Success Issue at Work
Go to: Leadership Control Essay
Go to: Home Page Index
Go to: Interactive Index