Seven Lessons from “Eat That Frog”

Imagine you were asked to eat a live frog? Yuck! You won’t even like to imagine it. In his book “Eat That Frog”, Brian Tracey describes how our biggest, hardest, and most important tasks are like frogs. Tackling those tasks is like eating live frogs. You hate doing them and hence you delay on them. However, the sooner you tackle them, the less hard they are. It’s easier to swallow a smaller frog before it become a “Goliath”.

Before presenting you with the seven lessons I have learnt from the book, let me introduce the author and the book briefly.

Brian Tracy is a Canadian-American author. He has written over 70 books and focuses on helping you achieve your goals faster. His books have helped thousands of people on their path to self- development. In his book “Eat That Frog”, Brian points towards human tendency to postpone the most difficult tasks. This is called procrastination, and it is probably the most common human trait. Eat That Frog will help you deal with procrastination and motivate you to start your day by accomplishing the most challenging task first.

The following seven lessons describe the most important takeaways from the book.

Lesson One: Define Your Goals Clearly

The first step in overcoming procrastination is to define your goals. These goals should be as clearly defined as practically possible. Clarity is an essential part of productivity: you can’t work effectively unless you know what you are required to do. So figure out what tasks matter the most to you.

In order to bring clarity in defining your goals, write your goals down instead of trying to sort them out in your head. Statistics show that only three percent of adults manage their time with written goals, and they accomplish five to ten times as much as other people. Even highly educated individuals are less productive than those who write down their goals.

Lesson Two: Plan Your Day in Advance

After you’ve outlined your goals, plan your time in advance. It’s better to put five to ten minutes into planning your day than to start with a random task. Having a plan will give you a sense of purpose and each accomplished task will give you more confidence for the next one.

Break your goals down into a series of steps you can deal with one after another. Use checklists where relevant. They help you visualize your goals. When you look back on the tasks you’ve completed, you’ll feel proud. You’ll also be more motivated to keep going. Research has shown productivity improves by 25 percent when you work from a list. You save a lot of time when you don’t have to decide what to do first.

Where applicable, use the 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto Principle. The 80/20 rule says that every list of ten tasks should include two that are much more important than the others. Focus on those two. Most people mistakenly focus on the easy things first – the 80 percent – and procrastinate on the 20 percent that really matters.

Lesson Three: Preparation Makes Difference

You may have heard the saying, “Practice makes a man perfect”. Practice or preparation can be a major difference between being productive or non-productive. You will be amazed by what you can achieve with preparation. It’s like being prescient and ready for whatever the future brings. The more knowledge you accumulate, the better you become, and the faster you can get things done.

Apart from enhancing your productivity, preparation boosts your confidence and keeps you motivated for taking on further challenges. For instance, a well-prepared presentation is more likely to receive a better response, thereby boosting your confidence for the next time.

Lesson Four: Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

In order to overcome procrastination, it is important to know yourself. A key part of knowing yourself is understanding your own skills. Everyone has a special talent that makes them unique. Find yours, then maximize its potential. Your special skill might be something that makes you very valuable to others. You might be good at numbers, foreign languages, working with people or holding up under pressure; find out your real talent.

Find your skill by asking yourself the right questions. What’s easy for you that’s difficult for others? What has helped you achieve what you already have in life? Find something you are good at and put it to use. Your aim should be to achieve expertise in that area. Leverage your efforts based on your talents. It’s the best way to make progress in less time.

Finally, never stop improving. You can always get better at what you do. Never stop learning either. Always try to refine your skills – you’ll prevent them from deteriorating and gain more confidence. Keep thinking about available growth opportunities.

Lesson Five: Take Control of Your Time

The 80:20 rule explained earlier would save you a lot of your resources. One of those resources is time. In fact, time could easily be defined as the most precious resource. Thus, time management is a key to being successful in overcoming procrastination and eating your frogs each day. Apart from task prioritization, a few tips for effective time management include:

Distinguish between urgent and important tasks. Some tasks are short and urgent; execute to get them out of the way as soon as possible. Make a plan for your important, long-term goals, and work on them on daily basis.

Avoid multitasking whenever you can. Contrary to common perception, multitasking doesn’t make you more efficient. It is better to tick a few boxes rather than leaving everything in progress.

If you tend to be a perfectionist, keep your perfectionism pragmatic. Spending all of your time on a single task to make it perfect is like sitting in the exam and presenting an overdetailed answer to a single question when you were actually required to answer five questions to pass the exam.

Lesson Six: Try Your Best Each Time

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Do not focus on the impossibility of the task. Just focus on giving your best every single day. Remember that life doesn’t require you to be the best; it requires you to try your best. This approach will help you keep going without caring for failures and setbacks.

Lesson Seven: Don’t Let Your Frogs Grow Bigger

Eat That Frog defines your most difficult tasks as frogs. It is important to learn that these frogs grow over time. As you procrastinate over relatively difficult tasks, they become even more difficult. Don’t let the tadpoles turn into Goliaths, eat your frogs when they are small and easier to swallow. Eat your frogs early.

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