Eat That Frog

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. And when you develop the habit of starting on your most important task before anything else, your success is assured. Here is a summary of the twenty-one great ways to stop procrastinating and get more things done faster. Review these rules and principles regularly until they become firmly ingrained in your thinking and actions, and your future will be guaranteed.

  1. Set the table: Decide exactly what you want. Clarity is essential. Write out your goals and objectives before you begin.
  2. Plan every day in advance: Think on paper. Every minute you spend in planning can save you five or ten minutes in execution.
  3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Always concentrate your efforts on that top 20 percent.
  4. Consider the consequences: Your most important tasks and priorities are those that can have the most serious consequences, positive or negative, on your life or work. Focus on these above all else.
  5. Practice creative procrastination: Since you can’t do everything, you must learn to deliberately put off those tasks that are of low value so that you have enough time to do the few things that really count.
  6. Use the ABCDE Method continually: Before you begin work on a list of tasks, take a few moments to organize them by value and priority so you can be sure of working on your most important activities.
  7. Focus on key result areas: Identify and determine those results that you absolutely, positively have to get to do your job well, and work on them all day long.
  8. The Law of Three: Identify the three things you do in your work that account for 90 percent of your contribution, and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life.
  9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin: Have everything you need at hand before you start. Assemble all the papers, information, tools, work materials, and numbers you might require so that you can get started and keep going.
  10. Take it one oil barrel at a time: You can accomplish the biggest and most complicated job if you just complete it one step at a time.
  11. Upgrade your key skills: The more knowledgeable and skilled you become at your key tasks, the faster you start them and the sooner you get them done.
  12. Leverage your special talents: Determine exactly what it is that you are very good at doing, or could be very good at, and throw your whole heart into doing those specific things very, very well.
  13. Identify your key constraints: Determine the bottlenecks or choke points, internal or external, that set the speed at which you achieve your most important goals, and focus on alleviating them.
  14. Put the pressure on yourself: Imagine that you have to leave town for a month, and work as if you had to get all your major tasks completed before you left.
  15. Maximize your personal power: Identify your periods of highest mental and physical energy each day, and structure your most important and demanding tasks around these times. Get lots of rest so you can perform at your best.
  16. Motivate yourself into action: Be your own cheerleader. Look for the good in every situation. Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Always be optimistic and constructive.
  17. Get out of the technological time sinks: Use technology to improve the quality of your communications, but do not allow yourself to become a slave to it. Learn to occasionally turn things off and leave them off.
  18. Slice and dice the task: Break large, complex tasks down into bite-sized pieces, and then do just one small part of the task to get started.
  19. Create large chunks of time: Organize your days around large blocks of time where you can concentrate for extended periods on your most important tasks. 

  20. Develop a sense of urgency: Make a habit of moving fast on your key tasks. Become known as a person who does things quickly and well. 

  21. Single handle every task: Set clear priorities, start immediately on your most important task, and then work without stopping until the job is 100 percent complete. This is the real key to high performance and maximum personal productivity. 

Make a decision to practice these principles every day until they become second nature to you. With these habits of personal management as a permanent part of your personality, your future success will be unlimited.

1.Determine the three most important tasks that you do in your work. Ask yourself, “If I could do only one thing all day long, which one task would contribute the greatest value to my career?” Do this exercise two more times. Once you have identified your “big three,” concentrate on them single-mindedly all day long. 

2.Identify your three most important goals in each area of your life. Organize them by priority. Make plans for their accomplishment, and work on your plans every single day. You will be amazed at what you achieve in the months and years ahead. 

In Martin Seligman’s twenty-two-year study at the University of Pennsylvania, summarized in his book Learned Optimism, he determined that optimism is the most important quality you can develop for personal and professional success and happiness. Optimistic people seem to be more effective in almost every area of life.

1.Control your thoughts. Remember, you become what you think about most of the time. Be sure that you are thinking and talking about the things you want rather than the things you don’t want. 

2.Keep your mind positive by accepting complete responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you. Refuse to criticize others, complain, or blame others for anything. Resolve to make progress rather than excuses. Keep your thoughts and your energy focused forward, on what you can do right now to improve your life, and let the rest go. 

“Shoulds” versus “Musts”

A “B” item is defined as a task that you should do. But it has only mild consequences. These are the tadpoles of your work life. This means that someone may be unhappy or inconvenienced if you don’t do one of these tasks, but it is nowhere as important as an A task. Returning an unimportant telephone message or reviewing your e-mail would be a B task.
The rule is that you should never do a B task when an A task is left undone. You should never be distracted by a tadpole when a big frog is sitting there waiting to be eaten.
A “C” task is defined as something that would be nice to do but for which there are no consequences at all, whether you do it or not. C tasks include phoning a friend, having coffee or lunch with a coworker, and completing some personal business during work hours. These sorts of activities have no affect at all on your work life.
A “D” task is defined as something you can delegate to someone else. The rule is that you should delegate everything that someone else can do so that you can free up more time for the A tasks that only you can do.
An “E” task is defined as something that you can eliminate altogether, and it won’t make any real difference. This may be a task that was important at one time but is no longer relevant to you or anyone else. Often it is something you continue to do out of habit or because you enjoy it. But every minute that you spend on an E task is time taken away from a task or activity that can make a real difference in your life.

After you have applied the ABCDE Method to your list, you will be completely organized and ready to get more important things done faster.

1.Review your list of tasks, activities, and projects regularly. Continually ask yourself, “Which one project or activity, if I did it in an excellent and timely fashion, would have the greatest positive consequences in my work or personal life?” 

2.Determine the most important thing you could be doing every hour of every day, and then discipline yourself to work continually on the most valuable use of your time. What is this for you right now? 
Whatever it is that can help you the most, set it as a goal, make a plan to achieve it, and go to work on your plan immediately. Remember the wonderful words of Goethe: “Only engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed.”

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?

1.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?

2.Determine the one constraint, internal or external, that sets the speed at which you accomplish this goal. Ask, “Why haven’t I reached it already? What is it in me that is holding me back?” Whatever your answers, take action immediately. Do something. Do anything, but get started.

Successful people are invariably those who have taken the time to identify what they do well and most enjoy. They know what they do that really makes a difference in their work, and they then concentrate on that task or area of activity exclusively.

  1. Continually ask yourself these key questions: “What am I really good at? What do I enjoy the most about my work? What has been most responsible for my success in the past? If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?” ¨If you won the lottery or came into an enormous amount of money and you could choose any job or any part of a job to do for the indefinite future, what work would you choose?
  2. Develop a personal plan to prepare yourself to do your most important tasks in an excellent fashion. Focus on those areas where you have special talents and that you most enjoy. This is the key to unlocking your personal potential.

My personal rule is “Get it 80 percent right and then correct it later.” Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. Don’t expect perfection the first time or even the first few times. Be prepared to fail over and over before you get it right.

Rule: It is the quality of time at work that counts and the quantity of time at home that matters.

Time Management Is a Means to an End

The main reason to develop time management skills is so that you can complete everything that is really important in your work and free up more and more time to do the things in your personal life that give you the greatest happiness and satisfaction.

Fully 85 percent of your happiness in life will come from happy relationships with other people, especially those closest to you, as well as the members of your family. The critical determinant of the quality of your relationships is the amount of time that you spend face-to-face with the people you love, and who love you in return.

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 in life.

Bibliographical Information

Eat That Frog

By: Brian Tracy 
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler 
Pub. Date: January 1, 2007 
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-57675-422-1