Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy is a well written and easy to digest list of 21 tips to help you stop procrastinating and get more work done. This is a great guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed with work and doesn’t know where to start. Brian Tracy shares different methods for planning and prioritising, shows you how to identify the most important tasks and tips for keeping focused. An excellent and helpful guide!
THE THREE DS OF NEW HABIT FORMATION
You need three key qualities to develop the habits of focus and concentration, which are all learnable. They are:-
First, make a decision to develop the habit of task completion. Second, discipline yourself to practice the principles you are about to learn over and over until they become automatic. And third, back everything you do with determination until the habit is locked in and becomes a permanent part of your personality.
1. SET THE TABLE
Clarity is perhaps the most important concept in personal productivity. The number one reason why some people get more work done faster is that they are absolutely clear about their goals and objectives, and they don’t deviate from them.
There is a powerful formula for setting and achieving goals that you can use for the rest of your life. It consists of seven simple steps:-
1. Decide exactly what you want.
2. Write it down.
3. Set a deadline on your goal (set sub-deadlines if necessary).
4. Make a list of everything you can think of that you are going to have to do to
achieve your goal.
5. Organize the list into a plan.
6. Take action on your plan immediately.
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 motivate you and galvanize you into action. They stimulate your creativity, release your energy, and help you to overcome procrastination as much as any other factor.
2. PLAN EVERYDAY IN ADVANCE.
Your mind, your ability to think, plan, and decide, is your most powerful tool for overcoming procrastination and increasing your productivity. Your ability to set goals, make plans, and take action on them determines the course of your life. The very act of thinking and planning unlocks your mental powers, triggers your creativity, and increases your mental and physical energies.
The Six-P Formula: – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
When you consider how helpful planning can be in increasing your productivity and performance, it is amazing how few people practice it every single day. And planning is really quite simple to do. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen.
Planning a project
When you have a project of any kind, begin by making a list of every step that you will have to complete to finish the project from beginning to end. Organize the steps by priority and sequence. Lay out the project in front of you on paper or on a computer so that you can see every step and task. Then go to work on one task at a time. You will be amazed at how much you get done in this way.
3. APPLY THE 80/20 RULE TO EVERYTHING.
20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results, 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, and so on.
Number of Tasks versus Importance of Tasks
Here is an interesting discovery. Each of the ten tasks may take the same amount of time to accomplish. But one or two of those tasks will contribute five or ten times the value of any of the others. Often, one item on a list of ten tasks that you have to do can be worth more than all the other nine items put together. This task is invariably the frog that you should eat first.
The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. But the payoff and rewards for completing these tasks efficiently can be tremendous. For this reason, you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done. Resist the temptation to clear up small things first.
4. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCES.
The potential consequences of any task or activity are the key determinants of how important a task really is to you and to your company. Your attitude toward time, your “time horizon,” has an enormous impact on your behaviour and your choices. People who take a long view of their lives and careers always seem to make much better decisions about their time and activities than people who give very little thought to the future. Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.
Successful people have a clear future orientation. They think five, ten, and twenty years out into the future. They analyze their choices and behaviours in the present to make sure that what they are doing today is consistent with the long-term future that they desire.
Three questions for maximum productivity:-
- What are my highest value activities
- What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference?
- What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
5. PRACTICE CREATIVE PROCRASTINATION.
The fact is that you can’t do everything that you have to do. You have to procrastinate on something. Therefore, procrastinate on small tasks. Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.
Priorities versus Posteriorities
To set proper priorities, you must set posteriorities as well. A priority is something that you do more of and sooner, while a posteriority is something that you do less of and later, if at all. You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.
6. USE THE ABCDE METHOD CONTINUALLY.
The ABCDE Method is a powerful priority setting technique that you can use every single day. This technique is so simple and effective that it can, all by itself, make you one of the most efficient and effective people in your field.
Start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper.
You then place an A, B, C, D, or E next to each item on your list before you begin the first task.
An “A” item is defined as something that is very important, something that you must do. If you have more than one A task, you prioritize these tasks by writing “A– 1,” “A–2,” “A–3,”etc. Your A–1 task is your biggest, ugliest frog of all.
The key to making this ABCDE Method work is for you to now discipline yourself to start immediately on your A–1 task and then stay at it until it is complete. Use your willpower to get going and stay going on this one job, the most important single task you could possibly be doing. Eat the whole frog and don’t stop until it’s finished completely.
7. FOCUS ON KEY RESULT AREAS.
A key result area is defined as something for which you are completely responsible. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. A key result area is an activity that is under your control. It produces an output that becomes an input or a contributing factor to the work of others. The starting point of high performance is for you to identify the key result areas of your work. Discuss them with your boss. Make a list of your most important output responsibilities, and make sure that the people above you, on the same level as you, and below you are in agreement with it.
Once you have determined your key result areas, the second step is for you to grade yourself on a scale of one to ten (with one being the lowest and ten being the highest) in each of those areas. Where are you strong and where are you weak? Where are you getting excellent results and where are you underperforming? Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.
Ask yourself this question; “What one skill, if I developed it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”
8. APPLY THE LAW OF THREE.
Three core tasks that you perform contain most of the value that you contribute to your business or organization. Your ability to accurately identify these three key tasks and then to focus on them most of the time is essential for you to perform at your best.
The quick list method.
In thirty seconds, write down your three most important goals in life right now. Your subconscious mind will go into a form of “hyperdrive” and your three most important goals should pop out onto the paper.
The three most important areas of your life are a career, family/relationships, and health/fitness. It would make sense to have one goal in each of these areas. Grade yourself on these areas and identify where you need improvement.
Work all the time you work.
To keep your life in balance, you should resolve to work all the time you work. When you go to work, put your head down and work the whole time. Start a little earlier, stay a little later, and work a little harder. Don’t waste time. Every minute that you spend in idle chitchat with coworkers is time taken away from the work that you must accomplish if you want to keep your job.
Balance is not an option.
You need a balance between your work and your personal life. You need to set priorities at work and concentrate on your most valuable tasks. At the same time, you must never lose sight of the fact that the reason for working efficiently is so that you can enjoy a higher quality of life at home with your family.
9. PREPARE THOROUGHLY BEFORE YOU BEGIN.
One of the best ways for you to overcome procrastination and get more things done faster is to have everything you need at hand before you begin. When you are fully prepared, you are like a cocked gun or an archer with an arrow pulled back taut in the bow. You will be amazed at what you achieve in the months and years ahead. You just need one small mental push to get started on your highest value tasks.
10. TAKE IT ONE OIL BARREL AT A TIME.
One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is for you to get your mind off the huge task in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take. One step at a time.
11. UPGRADE YOUR KEY SKILLS.
A major reason for procrastination is a feeling of inadequacy, a lack of confidence, or an inability in a key area of a task. Feeling weak or deficient in a single area is enough to discourage you from starting the job at all. Continually upgrade your skills in your key result areas. Remember, however good you are today, your knowledge and skills are becoming obsolete at a rapid rate.
Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.
Three steps to mastery.
1. Read in your field, for at least one hour every day.
2. Take every course and seminar available on the key skills that can help you.
3. Listen to audio programs in your car.
12. LEVERAGE YOUR SPECIAL TALENTS.
You have special talents and abilities that make you different from every other person who has ever lived. There are certain things that you can do, or learn to do, that can make you extraordinarily valuable to yourself and to others. Your job is to identify your special areas of uniqueness and then to commit yourself to becoming very, very good in those areas.
13. IDENTIFY YOUR KEY CONSTRAINTS.
Between where you are today and any goal or objective that you want to accomplish, there is one major constraint that must be overcome before you can achieve that major goal. Your job is to identify it clearly. What is holding you back? What sets the speed at which you achieve your goals? What determines how fast you move from where you are to where you want to go? What stops you or holds you back from eating the frogs that can really make a difference? Why aren’t you at your goal already?
14. PUT THE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF.
Only about 2 percent of people can work entirely without supervision. We call these people “leaders.” This is the kind of person you are meant to be and that you can be, if you decide to be. To reach your full potential, you must form the habit of putting the pressure on yourself and not waiting for someone else to come along and do it for you. You must choose your own frogs and then make yourself eat them in their order of importance.
15. MAXIMIZE YOUR PERSONAL POWERS.
The raw material of personal performance and productivity is contained in your physical, mental, and emotional energies. Your body is like a machine that uses food, water, and rest to generate energy that you then use to accomplish important tasks in your life and work. When you are fully rested, for example, you can get two times, three times, and five times as much done as when you are tired or burned out. One of the most important requirements for being happy and productive is for you to guard and nurture your energy levels at all times.
Overworking can mean under producing.
- Work at your own pace.
- Get enough sleep.
- Guard your physical health.
16. MOTIVATE YOURSELF INTO ACTION.
Most of your emotions, positive or negative, are determined by how you talk to yourself on a minute-to-minute basis. It is not what happens to you but the way that you interpret the things that are happening to you that determines how you feel. Your version of events largely determines whether these events motivate or de-motivate you, whether they energize or de-energize you. To keep yourself motivated, you must resolve to become a complete optimist. You must decide to respond positively to the words, actions, and reactions of the people and situations around you. You must refuse to let the unavoidable difficulties and setbacks of daily life affect your mood or emotions.
17. GET OUT OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL TIME SINKS.
Technology can be your best friend or your worst enemy. As we race into the twenty-first century, bombarded by information from all sides, many people seem to have an irresistible, if not obsessive, need to communicate continually with people everywhere—in their personal and business lives:-
“Continuous contact is not essential”
You have a choice! For you to stay calm, clear-headed, and capable of performing at your best, you need to detach on a regular basis from the technology and communication devices that can overwhelm you if you are not careful.
Remember, when you go away for a day, a week, or a month on vacation or on business and you are out of touch with your communication devices, nothing happens. The world seems to continue revolving whether or not you are in continuous contact with it. Problems get solved, answers get found, work gets done, and life continues to flow along like Old Man River. Very few things are so important that they cannot wait.
18. SLICE AND DICE THE TASK.
One technique that you can use to cut a big task down to size is the “salami slice” method of getting work done. With this method, you lay out the task in detail and then resolve to do just one slice of the job for the time being, like eating a roll of salami one slice at a time—or like eating an elephant one bite at a time.
Psychologically, you will find it easier to do a single, small piece of a large project than to start on the whole job. Often, once you have started and completed a single part of the job, you will feel like doing just one more slice. Soon, you will find yourself working through the job one part at a time, and before you know it, the job will be completed.
19. CREATE LARGE CHUNKS OF TIME
Most of the really important work you do requires large chunks of unbroken time to complete. Your ability to carve out and use these blocks of high-value, highly productive time is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.
- Schedule blocks of time.
- Use a time planner.
- Make every minute count.
20. DEVELOP A SENSE OF URGENCY.
Highly productive people take the time to think, plan, and set priorities. They then launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and objectives. They work steadily, smoothly, and continuously. As a result, they seem to power through enormous amounts of work in the same amount of time that the average person spends socializing, wasting time, and working on low-value activities.
When you regularly take continuous action toward your most important goals, you activate the Momentum Principle of success. This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going.
21. SINGLE HANDLE EVERY TASK.
Every great achievement of humankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done. Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.
Single handling requires that once you begin, you keep working at the task without diversion or distraction until the job is 100 percent complete. You keep urging yourself onward by repeating the words “Back to work!” over and over whenever you are tempted to stop or do something else. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50 percent or more.
Brian Tracy is the most sort after guru when it comes to time management and getting stuff done. Eat That Frog is a very easy short book to read which brings the concept of time/task management up to date. It focuses on developing the right mindset when thinking about task management and developing the right discipline to stick with it. Which is extremely difficult for even the most dedicated business builder. If you’re truly serious about building a successful business then this Brian Tracy’s book is a must read. Grab a copy and have a read for yourself.