Let me just say that the content of this book is timeless. It worked hundreds of years ago, and the practical advice is still relevant today for every person on the planet. If you are not a procrastinator, congratulations! I wonder how many of these principles taught by Brian Tracy come naturally to you, and if there are any you might implement to become even more productive.
Mr. Tracy is one of the most venerated experts on performance and productivity. Yet, his book is practical, written in a highly readable style, full of energetic stories that infuse readers with an understanding of how they can apply relevant practices to their own experience. As the title implies, Eat That Frog, contains 21 ways to get more done in less time. Following each of the twenty-one instructions, readers are given concrete guidance on how to harness what they’ve learned and make it a habit.
I admit, when I read this book I swore Brian Tracy wrote it for me. I struggle with productivity and every single thing he wrote about in his book has been true for me. I could open the book and one by one put them out there to see how many you identify with, but to do that would mean reiterating every point made in this short book. There are 21 topics which equate to roughly sixty takeaways for me, but I’ll go easy on you. Here are my top three meaningful tips taken from Eat That Frog.
In one of the chapters, I noted this quote because the truth behind the principle is sound.
Six-P Formula: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Ten to twelve minutes a day spent planning will save you up to two hours of wasted time and give that back to you in productivity.
I am notorious for being attracted to distraction. It goes beyond the bright shiny objects. I can even be distracted by a rusty nail. As it turns out, we are all susceptible to becoming addicted to distractions due to a chemical in our brains called dopamine. Take notifications for example. We hear a sound or see a post or read an email and become curious. Our brains release a shot of dopamine which gives us a feeling of pleasure and that little shot can spiral into lost attention. Whatever we were doing before is lost and impedes any progress. Tracy says this is how addiction to distractions start and when we receive those multiple shots of dopamine we are destined to lose focus and therefore productivity as well.
Plan your day the night before and immediately begin work on the most important task first thing. No phone call. No email. Nothing else. Get to work!
Work for 90 solid minutes without diversion. Take a 15-minute break. Work another 90 solid minutes without diversion. Take a 15-minute break.
Reward yourself with a short diversion such as checking your email. As Brian Tracy describes it, go ahead and have that shot of dopamine.
Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
While I derived much value from each of the chapters in this book, I think the one that was the most helpful for my current experience was the one where Tracy gave us seven steps to goal setting. Anyone can set a goal. I can do that. But mapping the navigation to reach a successful achievement, well, not so much. I would say I get stuck in the minutia, but I’m not sure I even get as far as the minutia. Tag along with this next paragraph and we’ll discover together the process for goal setting. First, the powerful formula: Think on paper. Write your goals.
- Decide exactly what you want – get crystal clear on that, then set priorities
- Write it down – this makes it real, not a wish or a dream
- Set deadlines – without deadlines you are destined to procrastinate
- Make a list of every item you need to do to achieve your goal – add as many as you need
- Organize the list into a plan – use boxes, circles, images to indicate priority and sequence
- Take action – right now. To achieve anything takes consistent execution.
- Resolve to do something toward your goals every single day – never miss an opportunity to move forward
And just a couple quotes that cemented the idea of momentum and progression:
- Start from the end and work backward to list tasks that will need to be done to achieve goals.
- Think about your goals and review them every day.
- Focus on activities, not accomplishments.
If I had to vote for my favorite chapter of this book, it would be #14 Motivate Yourself into Action. I know. It doesn’t make much sense since I’m the one who confessed that I’m ranked in the top percentile of procrastinators. What spoke to me, though, is the whole idea that no matter how I feel at the moment, no matter what is happening in my life, no matter how buried I am under suffocating tasks, I choose my attitude. I believe that we might not make our own circumstances but we each own our reaction to them. We can be defeated or we can be victorious in the small things that impact the consequences of the big things. Tracy says, “When you continually visualize your goals and ideals and talk to yourself in a positive way, you feel more focused and energized. You feel more confident and creative. You experience a greater sense of control and personal power.”
One of the 21 principles is fully described in the book and here as the ABCDE Method which Tracy advocates religiously as the failsafe method to prioritize tasks in the order of importance and impact. As a project manager in previous positions I found that method to be priceless to keeping projects on schedule and assuring the pieces fit together according to plan at completion.
“The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task and finish it completely is the key to great success, respect, status, and happiness in life.”
If that’s the ultimate goal, I’m curious how your top three ways to stop procrastinating differ from mine. Why do we even care about procrastination? We care because we have a finite amount of time and to use it indiscriminately (to waste it) is the same thing as taking time from what we care about most and give it to something that has only minor value.
As Brian Tracy says, “The purpose of time management – of eating that frog – and getting more done in less time is to enable you to spend more “face time” with the people you care about, doing the things that give you the greatest amount of joy.”
Here’s my last thought. Who on earth names a book, Eat That Frog? Where did the title come from? Are you curious? The answer is in the book, but I’ll give you a small hint. Mark Twain.