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Eat That Frog Summary – Brian Tracy

Arthur Worsley
by Arthur Worsley
M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
7 MINUTE READ
Eat That Frog! (2007)
21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
TAoL Rating: Book Rating: 5/5 5.0

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One-Sentence Summary

Eat That Frog! is a punchy, concise guide to identifying what matters, setting powerful goals and then getting to work on them right away - by productivity and self-development legend, Brian Tracy. (128 pages)

Note: This Eat That Frog! summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise the Best Productivity Books and Best Self Help Books of all time.

Eat That Frog! Review

I’m a huge fan of Brian Tracy. His advice on productivity goes deep on “What” and “How”. His writing is motivational and accessible. His messages are clear and consistent.

In fact, neither his message nor his wording has changed much in the 10 years since I first read his book Goals!. But not much needs to. His empowering formulas for personal and professional productivity are simple, practical and effective.

That said, I’m not sure about the structure of this version of those tips. There’s a good deal of repetition. Many points seem to fit within a single theme or add detail to each other. The “21 Great Ways” ends up feeling more catchy than practical. As a result, I’ve restructured the content into a simple six-step plan below.

Nevertheless, Brian’s original does chant a powerfully motivational mantra of planning, prioritisation and action. I am indebted to him for giving me some solid advice on productivity and sales 10 years ago at a point in my life when I needed it most.

My advice: Read the Eat That Frog summary below. And if you like it, skip Eat That Frog and read the slightly meatier, Goals!

It will definitely change the way you work.

It might just change your life.

Eat That Frog! Summary

Personal productivity is about taking back control of your time.

  • There will always be too much to do; and
  • Lack of time is actually lack of priorities; which is why
  • The key to reclaiming time is proper time management.

Taking control of your time lets you focus on what counts: your relationships with others.

Brian suggests 6-simple steps to work more often on what matters most…

  1. Decide on your Goals;
  2. Plan your Goals;
  3. Plan your Time;
  4. Set Yourself Up for Success;
  5. Work Single-Mindedly on Your Most Important Task; and
  6. Repeat the Process Regularly.

Let’s look at each in more detail…

Step 1. Decide on your Goals

Visualise clearly what you would like each area of life to look like in 5, 10 and 15 years.

Now, take 30 seconds for each area (+ Problems / Concerns) to write your top 3 current goals:

  • 30 seconds is as good as 3 hours; and
  • Write as if you had already accomplished each goal.
    • On paper;
    • In the present tense;
    • With a positive voice; and
    • In the first person.

Identify the goal in each area that will have the greatest positive impact on your life.

Tips for Professional Development:

  1. Identify the 5 – 7 results areas for which you are currently entirely responsible;
    Discuss and syndicate these with your boss, colleagues and direct reports.
  2. Grade yourself (1 – 10) in each of those areas; and
  3. Make your weakest skill the focus of your professional development.
    This major cause of procrastination sets the height at which you can use all your other skills.

Example results areas:

Management:

  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Staffing
  • Delegating
  • Supervising
  • Measuring
  • Reporting

Sales:

  • Prospecting;
  • Building rapport and trust;
  • Identifying needs;
  • Presenting persuasively;
  • Answering objections;
  • Closing;
  • Getting resales and referrals;

Step 2: Plan your Goals

Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.

Write a list of everything you’ll need to achieve for each of your most impactful goals.

  • Next actions;
  • Barriers;
  • Limiting factors.;
  • Personal capabilities;
  • Resources; and
  • Other people.

Now invert:

  • Ask yourself why the goal isn’t already complete; and
  • Start with the end in mind and work backwards.

Prioritise with Pareto’s 80/20 principle.

  • What 20% of the tasks will contribute 80% of the results?
  • Solving which 20% of the barriers will unlock 80% of the progress?

Prioritise the list with the ABCDE technique:

  • A – Must: Major consequences for the goal if (not) completed;
    Prioritise among A tasks – A1, A2, A3 etc…
  • B – Should: Some consequences;
  • C – Nice: No consequences;
  • D – Delegate: Anything not “only you”; and
  • E – Eliminate: Anything no longer important.

Organise the list into a plan:

  • By priority; and
  • By sequence.

Set deadlines:

  • Set a main deadline;
  • Set sub-deadlines if necessary;
  • Make the deadlines aggressive (What if you only had one day?); and
    Creates urgency. Triggers eustress. Defuses Parkinson’s law.
  • Add +20% to your timeline when communicating your plan with others to account for unexpected delays/diversions.

Tips for Business/Career:

  1. Write a list of every activity you do in a week/month;
  2. Identify which one activity contributes the most value;
  3. Now work out the second and third most value contributing activities;
  4. These activities are your priority. Resolve to downsize, delegate or eliminate everything else; and
  5. Syndicate this focus and plan with your boss, co-workers and direct reports.

Step 3: Plan your Time

Plan in advance and work from lists.

  • Write everything down;
  • Add every new thing to the list before acting;
  • Move items from a master list > monthly > weekly > daily lists; and
  • Do this before the start of each period.

Prioritise your lists:

  • With the 80/20 principle; and
  • With the ABCDE technique.

Step 4: Set Yourself Up for Success

Create the time, space, energy and capabilities to work on your most important tasks.

Eliminate anything that fails the test of “Zero-Based Thinking”.
“If I were not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I start doing it again today?”

Create large chunks of time:

  • Block out large chunks of your calendar for uninterrupted work; and
  • Wake up early and work from home.

Prepare everything you need in advance:

  • Clear everything away not related to the task at hand.
  • Gather everything you need for the task within physical reach.
  • Set up your work area so it is conducive to working long periods. Make it:
    • Clean;
    • Attractive;
    • Organised; and
    • Comfortable (especially chair).

Eliminate distractions.
Work all the time you work.
Every wasted minute is one not spent with friends/family or on a more important task.

  • Eliminate / delegate 80% of email:
    • Prepare canned responses to FAQs;
    • Train and delegate your email triage; and
    • Batch your emailing as infrequently as possible.
  • Turn off all electronics for at least:
    • One hour each AM and PM; and
    • One full day per week.

Learn continuously.
Everyone who is good at something was once bad at it.
You can learn anything by simply learning to replicate what someone else has done.

  • Read for one hour every day in your field;
  • Listen to audiobooks whilst you drive/travel; andf
  • Attend as many seminars and trainings as you can.

Maximise your energy.

  • Eat as if you were a pro athlete.
    • Breakfast: High protein, low fat, low carbohydrate;
    • Lunch: Salad with white meat (chicken/fish);
    • Avoid sugar, white flour and salt; and
    • Say no to pastries, desserts, soft drinks and candy bars.
  • Exercise regularly:
    • At least 200 mins per week (~30 mins per day); and
    • Schedule sessions in like business meetings.
  • Get enough rest:
    • Working >8h a day provides diminishing returns;
    • Get to sleep by 10 P.M.;
    • Take at least one full day off per week; andf
    • Take regular vacations.

Become an optimist:
It’s not what happens to you but the way you interpret them that determines how you feel.

  • Look for the good in every situation.
  • Seek the valuable lesson in every setback or difficulty.
  • Look for solutions to every problem (solution orientation).
  • Look forward rather than backwards (goal orientation).
  • Refuse to criticise, complain or condemn.

Step 5: Work Single-Mindedly on your Most Important Task

Eat that Frog! Each day, work on your hardest and most important task:

  • Before anything else.
  • Single-mindedly (no multi-tasking) until it is complete.
    Switching has a high cost of momentum and energy.

Overcome procrastination and generate momentum:

  • Lack of Planning: Break the goal down into smaller steps.
  • Lack of Skill: Expand your capabilities.
  • Lack of Will:
    • Do just one item on your list. Do anything!
    • Shift to a process goal (do just 10 minutes).
    • Practise discipline.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

  • Trust the process;
  • Remember: “There is no such thing as failure only feedback”
  • Test, experiment, make it a game, have fun!

Step 6: Repeat the Process Regularly

Develop the habit of success.
For more on habit formation see The Power of Habit summary.

  • Constantly review the activities you are engaged in.
  • Constantly identify whether these are the most important things you could be working on.
  • Develop a fast tempo and a sense of urgency.
  • Work all the time you work.

Practice asking yourself constantly how to maximise your effectiveness.

  • What can I start?
  • What can I stop?
  • What can I do more of?
  • What can I do less of?

Never forget that all of this is a means an end: spending more time with the people you love.

Eat That Frog! Contents

Eat That Frog! has 21 main chapters…

Introduction: Eat That Frog

  1. Set the Table
  2. Plan Every Day in Advance
  3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything
  4. Consider the Consequences
  5. Practice Creative Procrastination
  6. Use the ABCDE Method Continually
  7. Focus on Key Result Areas
  8. Apply the Law of Three
  9. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin
  10. Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time
  11. Upgrade Your Key Skills
  12. Leverage Your Special Talents
  13. Identify Your Key Constraints
  14. Put the Pressure on Yourself
  15. Maximize Your Personal Powers
  16. Motivate Yourself into Action
  17. Get Out of the Technological Time Sinks
  18. Slice and Dice the Task
  19. Create Large Chunks of Time
  20. Develop a Sense of Urgency
  21. Single Handle Every Task

Conclusion: Putting It All Together

Best Eat That Frog! Quotes

These Eat That Frog! quotes come from The Art of Living's ever-growing central library of thoughts, anecdotes, notes, and inspirational quotes.

Best Eat That Frog! Quotes: All improvements in your outer life begin with improvements on the inside, in your mental pictures.

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Read More: 5 Books Like Eat That Frog!

Enjoyed this Eat That Frog! summary? You might enjoy the rest of the books on these lists of the Best Productivity Books and Best Self Help Books of all time.

And in the meantime...

Here are 5 top books like Eat That Frog!...

Books Like Eat That Frog!: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey (FREE Summary)
Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a perennial masterpiece on leading a happy, productive and purposeful existence and an unmissable stop for any pilgrim of personal improvement - by educator, author and speaker, Stephen Covey.
Published 1989 // 372 pages // Rated 4.1 over 624,500 reviews on Goodreads
Books Like Eat That Frog!: First Things First
2. First Things First - Stephen R. Covey (FREE Summary)
First Things First is an action-oriented time-management manual, filled with frameworks and exercises to help you do more of what matters and less of what doesn't - by the author of the #1 book on this list, Stephen Covey.
Published 1993 // 384 pages // Rated 4.1 over 40,400 reviews on Goodreads
Books Like Eat That Frog!: Goals!
3. Goals! - Brian Tracy (FREE Summary)
How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible
Goals! was the first book I ever read on productivity and probably the most readable and complete guide to goal-setting ever written - by sales legend and time-management master, Brian Tracy.
Published 1989 // 291 pages // Rated 4.2 over 14,200 reviews on Goodreads
Books Like Eat That Frog!: The Effective Executive
4. The Effective Executive - Peter F. Drucker (FREE Summary)
The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done
The Effective Executive is THE timeless classic on leadership and management; on getting the right things done - by the dean of business and management philosophy, Peter F. Drucker.
Published 1966 // 208 pages // Rated 4.1 over 32,700 reviews on Goodreads
Books Like Eat That Frog!: The Slight Edge
5. The Slight Edge - Jeff Olson (FREE Summary)
Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success & Happiness
The Slight Edge is a short, punchy, practical guide to the why, what and how of using simple daily disciplines to achieve breakthrough success - by serial entrepreneur, speaker and author, Jeff Olson.
Published 2005 // 168 pages // Rated 4.3 over 21,900 reviews on Goodreads

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Arthur Worsley
I founded TAoL to discover and share the best wisdom on how to live long and prosper. Before that I studied Psychology, Philosophy & Physiology at Oxford and consulted at McKinsey. Still curious? Learn more or take my FREE productivity quiz.

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