Eat that Frog – Book Review

Written by Brian Tracy, a businessman, coach, and productivity guru he goes straight to the point with 21 clever tips to overcome procrastination and get things done.

Here I’ll show you the highlights of his 21 advices to improve productivity.

At the beginning of the book, he talks about how the path to success is already built, and you just have to follow what other successful people have already done and proved to work. It’s not rocket science, find someone who is remarkable in your field, ask him how did he get to that point, and apply it to your career.

I felt like he was talking directly to me, we sometimes fall into the mistake of thinking that we have to be unique, we have to do something different to succeed. Therefore we use all our time and energy into thinking these brand new idea that no one has thought about before, when the path is already there.

Truth is, even if you follow the steps of somebody else who has already reached success you will always instill your own personality to it. you will always find something to improve and customize it to your routine to your schedule, you just have to start.

“The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well, and to finish it completely is the key to great success achievement, respect, status and happiness in life”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

In this book he will teach us exactly that, how to recognize your most important task, and work on it non-stop until you finish it, because that is the secret to success.

What does eat that frog mean?

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

Your frog is the most important task you have to do today, the one that if you don’t do it will make you feel bad, but if you succeed you’ll feel like a champion, you’ll feel energized to get going with your day with the confidence that you’re moving toward your bigger goals one step at a time.

There’s something interesting about finishing these big scary tasks, the completion itself gives us a release of dopamine, that feel good hormone in our brains, you can develop a healthy addiction to finishing big tasks, in a way that it will get easier everyday to sit and get to work and don’t stop until you’re done, getting the habit of finishing what you start is a daily practice that onbce acquired will set you up for success.

“You have a virtually unlimited ability to learn and develop new skills, habits and abilities. When you train yourself, through repetition and practice, to overcome procrastination and get your most important task completed quickly, you will move yourself onto the fast track in your life and career and step on the accelerator.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

1. Set the table:

You have to be clear about your objectives before you start working on them, he encourages us to think on paper. Writing your objectives, will make them more real, tangible, this will give you a reminder of why you wanted to do this in the first place, and the motivation you will need sometimes to start doing it.

He talked about formula for setting and achieving goals, that has seven 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 that 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.

2. Plan every day in advance:

Did you know that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution? If you only take 10 minutes every night before you go to sleep to plan your day ahead, you can save up to 2 hours that will be used to start working right on what you have to do.

His advice is to always work from a list, if something else shows up add it to your list, but keep working from it. There are four different lists mentioned in this book that are key to scheduling how you’ll be working on your goals:

  • A master list, this is where you put all your lifetime goals, everything you want to do sometime in the future.
  • A monthly list, where you decide what are you going to work on each specific month.
  • A weekly list, here you take little pieces of work from your monthly list and plan your whole week ahead.
  • A Daily list, this is the one that you make the night before, including tasks from your weekly list.

Writing the daily list the night before it’s a little hack for your brain to sub-consciously work on how to resolve those problems, or how to finish those tasks quickly.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything

Pareto’s Principle applied to productivity translates into this: 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results.

Your have to identify what are the main tasks that will bring the highest value to your job, career or business. It is applicable to any subject.

A high-value task most of the time will take the same amount of time to finish than a low-value task, be smart when choosing where to invest your time and energy.

4. Consider the consequences

Something that is important a long-term consequence if it is not done correctly and on time. To identify your most important task you have to ask yourself what are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task? The clearer you are about your goals the easier it will be to identify what are the most important tasks when you answer this question.

“Time is going to pass anyway. The only question is how you use it and where you are going to end up and at the end of the weeks and months.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

And where you end up depends on your actions, and if you have correctly chosen which are your most important tasks.

5. Practice creative procrastination

There is not enough time to do everything you need to do you will always procrastinate on something, if you have your priorities straight you can choose to procrastinate on those activities that are low-value, delegate them, outsource and eliminate them. and Focus your time on your high-value activities.

“Creative procrastination is the act of thoughtfully and deliberately deciding upon the exact things you are not going to do right now, if ever”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

6. Use the ABCDE method

This is a priority setting technique, you assign letters to the activities depending how it’s importance. Making it easier to decide whether you should be doing a certain task or another.

  • A: These tasks are very important, you must do them or there will be negative consequences.
  • B: you should do this, if you don’t there will be mild consequences.
  • C: This is something that would be nice to do, but there will be no consequences at all if you decide not to do this.
  • D: This is something you can delegate to somebody else, so you can free up more time for the “A” items on your list.
  • E: you can eliminate altogether these tasks and it won’t make any difference.

7. Focus on key result areas

Ask yourself what is the one thing that you and only you can do, you are the only responsible for this and if you don’t do it it won’t get done, those are your key results areas. If you focus your efforts on improving the skills needed to get the work done efficiently you’ll succeed and will bring the most value to your company or business.

One of the reasons we procrastinate to complete a job is because we lack of the skills needed to do it correctly, or we have done it poorly in the past, instead of putting it away be honest with yourself and make the commitment to improve in that area so you can do that tasks you are solely responsible of excellent and on time.

8. The Law of Three

If someone gives you 30 seconds to write down your three most important goals in life, what would they be? This answer is as accurate as if you’ve been given 3 hours to think about it. When you think fast enough your brain will put in front of you your top priorities. These are the ones that if you put all your efforts on will give you the greatest satisfaction.

You can apply this law to define your priorities, your most valuable tasks, the 3 actions that will provide most income to your business, and it takes no more than 30 seconds. In the book there are several given aspects to think about using this approach, family, finances, personal, health goals, you can ask yourself what are your goals on these areas and what are the most valuable actions you can take to improve in just 30 seconds.

9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin

Have a comfortable work space, with everything you need to get the work done at reach, keep in mind that you’ll be working for a long time you have to eat your frog completely before moving onto another task.

One of the reasons we procrastinate on getting the work done is because we get up to find things that weren’t in our workspace, therefore distracting ourselves from our main task.

“Once you have completed your preparations, it is essential that you launch immediately toward your goals. Get started. Do the first thing, whatever it is.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

Sit up straight, get yourself into the skin of a highly efficient, high performing personality. Get to work and don’t stop until you’re finished.

10. Take it one barrel at a time

This goes for taking it one step at a time, it doesn’t matter if you don’t really know how to continue after you’ve finished with this task, if you take it one step at a time the path you need to follow will eventually appear, you just have to keep moving forward. Your next step will soon be clear to you.

11. Upgrade your key skills

Learn what you need to learn so you can get your work done in an excellent fashion. Improve your skills, in a way that it gets easier and faster every day to get your work done.

Never stoplearning, the better you are at a determined skill the more likely you are to jump straight to work and finish it.

12. Leverage your special talents

We all have talents, that thing that it’s easier for you to do than it is for others. You can do it faster and better, and if you focus your efforts on improving that talent there are no limits on how successful you can be.

Do what you love to do, take those talents and turn them into high value for everything you put your mind on doing.

13. Identify your key constrains

Do not ignore your constrains, because whatever it is that is holding you back you have to identify it and try t o alleviate it so you don’t have any limitations on how fast can you grow or how far can you go.

The 80/20 rule can be applied to this, 80% of your constrains are internal, these are limiting factors that you can control and improve, the other 20% you can do nothing about because they are not in your circle of influence. Focus on what you can control, and the first step to improve it is identifying it.

14. Put the pressure on yourself

Don’t be that person who waits for somebody else to come and push them to do what they need to do. Take the initiative, work harder, be your own coach.

If you want to build your self-esteem start by doing better than expected, not bacuase anyone tells you to do so, but because you want to prove yourself that you can.

15. Maximize your personal powers

Take care of your body, eat healthy, rest well and the machinery you have to work with will perform at its highest.

Overworking can be underproducing, when you’re tired the best thing you can do is to stop, take a rest and continue when your body is fully rested and ready to get the work done.

Work at your own pace, under your conditions, know your body and how you perform at different times of the day so you can take advantage of this.

16. Motivate yourself into action

Be your own personal cheerleader, keep an eye on your inner talk, and try to avoid the negative, develop a positive attitude and you’ll soon find that seeing solutions where other people see a problem will be beneficial for you in the long run.

17. Get out of technological time sinks

We all need a little break from technology from time to time, it can consume so much time and have us “busy” by staying connected through emails, messages, we can lose a little bit of sight where we are heading to.

Don’t let technology take control of your time, you have to be the one who sets the amount of time you dedicate to technology and what amount of time you set for goal achievement.

Continuous contact is not essential, if you don’t keep up to date with the news the problems will solve anyway, if something really important is happening you will know it even if you don’t dedicate time to reading the news.

18. Slice and dice the task

If your frog is too big to be eaten at one seat, slice it down into little chuncks. This way you’ll feel a little bit of enthusiasm everytime you complete one of the sub-taks and it will keep you motivated to keep going.

You can develop a complusion to finish your tasks that motivates you to go through them until completion.

19. Create large chuncks of time

Time-blocking, we all know it is helpful but not all of us apply it. It is essential to have control of our time, define hours to specific tasks, and stick to your schedule. Use a time planner and work on it, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly and even minutes, keep track of everything.

The more control you have over your time the more effective you’ll be at your tasks.

20. Develop a sense of urgency

Once you have it all planned out, it is clear, your desk is with everything at reach, you have to jump right in to work like there’s nothing more important right at that moment than finishing it.

Get into the zone, focusing all your efforts on a single task without distractions for some time will get you into a state of flow.

“In the state of flow, which is the highest human state of performance and productivity, something almost miraculous happens to your mind and emotions. You feel elated and clear. Everything you do seems effortless and accurate. You feel happy and energyzed. You experience a tremendous sense of calm and increased personal effectiveness.”

Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

21. Single handle every task

Once you decide what is your most important task anything else you do besides working on it is a waste of time, so don’t try to multitask on this. Focus all your energy on one task at a time without interruptions, because every time you distract yourself and try to get back to work your mind has to make a shift that takes some time to do, focusing from one activity to another makes you lose valuable time.

Final thoughts

I liked the fact that you can take any of these advices and put it to work alone you’ll see an improvement in your performance. You can hand pick which ever suits best for your aspirations and it will work.

15 Things I learned from Atomic Habits by James Clear

My Book of the Month, August 2020: Atomic Habits – James Clear

*This post contains affiliate links

He caught me since page one, his story about the brain injury and how he had to learn everything again was incredible, if someone can recover from a comma, start from zero and be so successful, there is definitely something I can learn from them. 

This book deconstructed everything I think I knew about habits and how to build them, I am more patient with myself and I’ve learned to look at the big picture the right way. Here’s a summary of the most relevant points I learned from this book.

Right now you can get this hardcover for only $11.98 it’s 56% off, that’s cheaper than the paperback option! It is also available on Kindle, but I always prefer my favorite books on paper, and this one is definitely worth having on the shelf.

1. What is an atomic habit?

As atoms are the fundamental bricks of all matter, tiny habits are the bricks of every individual. The things that you do consistently every day are what define you, whether they are good or bad habits. 

Therefore an atomic habit is that behavior you reproduce daily without you putting much thought on it.

2. Build habits to become the person you want to be, not for the goals you want to reach

We focus so much on the goals that we miss the whole point, and by focusing on the goals we lose motivation very easily. Instead, we should ask ourselves who is the person that constantly achieves those goals and what would that person do every day.

To me this is actually seeing the big picture, not focusing on the accomplishments at the top of the mountain, but becoming the person who successfully climbs and reaches the top of the mountain.

He gives a pretty clear example, if a basketball team wants to win a game, it would be absurd if they only focus on the score chart and not on the things the players do while in the game.

3. Pointing and calling to raise self-awareness of your bad habits.

This may sound silly but I spent a whole day pointing and calling every action I made through the day, as recommended by James and giving each action a score to tell if this particular action was taking me closer to the person I wanted to be, pulling me back, or made no difference. 

I found that most of the actions were bad habits, I check my phone way too often for my productivity goals to be reached for example.

This is a golden piece of advice, pointing out every action you do in autopilot will give yourself a sense of awareness, write it down on paper and evaluate whether it is good or bad, better said, does it take you closer to the person you want to become or does it pull you back?

4. Stacking new habits on top of current ones.

If you find yourself having a hard time building a particular habit, commit yourself to do it after you finish doing something you do every day on autopilot. Make it as specific as possible, for example, the smell of coffee could be the trigger to sit and study.

If every morning you make yourself a cup of coffee, right after you pour the coffee on the cup and feel that delicious smell, go with the cup in hand to your desk and start studying at least for 30 minutes, you can make it longer with time.

5. Environment shapes your behavior

If you live in an unhealthy environment and this doesn’t have to be obvious, you will have a hard time having healthy habits. For example, the more visible a jar of cookies is, the more you’ll choose them for a snack instead of the apples laying in the bottom of the refrigerator, if you can see them easily you’ll probably choose it.

Same goes for every habit you want to build, you can modify your environment in order to have more access to this new habit. Want to drink more water? Have a bottle in the common places of your house. Want to watch less TV? Have the remote away from the bed or take the TV out of your bedroom.

You can link yourself to a particular habit in a particular context, set a little corner of your room with a comfy arm chair, and a shelf with the books you want to read daily, eventually you’ll associate that corner with reading.

6. Temptation bundling to make habits more attractive.

While exercise doesn’t seem as enjoyable as scrolling through social media for some; if you really want to build a habit that brings you out of your comfort zone, place it before something you enjoy doing.

This way the anticipation of that thing you enjoy doing will give you the spike of dopamine needed to get you on track and start doing what you need to do. It’s pretty simple, the temptation of that thing you want to do will push you to do what you need to do in order to get what you want.

So, if you are an Instagram junkie, and want to exercise more, put yourself the challenge to only be able to check out Instagram after you’ve completed a quick 5-minute work out session, start small, and keep on moving forward. 

7. Surround yourself by people who have your desired habit as normal

We internally and unconsciously want to fit in, it’s very difficult to avoid the crowd. But, what if you found a tribe that had all your desired behaviors, the habits you want to implement in your life are normal to them? You’ll push yourself to reach the same level or become even better to be recognized and praised.

Even if you don’t do it to be recognized, you can always find a tribe, a support group, people with similar goals and interests; this is another way to make the habits attractive and you’ll find it easier to stick to them. 

8. Reprogramming yourself to enjoy hard habits

This is another way to make habits attractive, as a way to motivate yourself to do hard stuff, change the perspective on how you see it, instead of saying “I have to study” change it for “I get to study what I love” it is a privilege that not many people have. 

Have a little motivational routine before having your hard habit done. Whether it is listening to your favorite music or having a big cup of tea, do it before starting to work on the hard stuff and it will be more enjoyable with time.

9. Being in Motion is different from taking action

We spend way too much time in motion, preparing ourselves, researching to make things perfect, and eventually, this search for perfection becomes procrastination. 

We feel like achieving something when doing this, but the actual progress is made when we take action, even if it’s a little step you take further, it won’t be perfect but it will be progress.

10. Making the right little choices

James says that any habit can start with 2 minutes, you have to make it super simple to take the first step. Even if it is just writing one sentence, if you do it every day consistently, you’ll soon find yourself writing more; one good action can lead to a succession of good actions towards the good habits you want to build.

11. Choosing long term gratification over short term gratification is not in our brains’ nature

We are biologically built to prefer the instant gratification, is a survival instinct, for our ancestors the food was scarce they had to look for it constantly and it felt satisfying, they had to be running from predators and looking for places to hide the instant gratification was the safe place, and so on.

In modern life, the choices we make for long term gratification are not as satisfying but are the ones that’ll get us where we want to be. Therefore, to make a habit stick it has to feel like a little victory every time you repeat it. An example, if you want to stop buying fast food and start cooking at home, every time you avoid buying fast food put the money you would’ve spent there in a savings account for something nice you want to buy.

12. Habit trackers are super effective:

They give us that sense of instant gratification, checking off a little square for one more day of consistently working out, practicing a language, or writing 300 words are great ways to see the progress made on a certain amount of time.

Habit tracking can be done as journals of exercise, for example, it doesn’t matter how small the amount, of exercise you did one day, if it’s only 5 squats, that already counts, 5 is more than 0. Showing up for your habit, going to the gym for 5 minutes, it builds up to the person you want to become.

In those days when you’re feeling demotivated look at your habit journal, is it really worth it to break your streak?

13. The Habit Contract

Making a commitment to stick to a habit with stated consequences if you fail to do so will help you stay motivated; there has to be a punishment of some sort involved and someone else willing to be a part of the punishment. 

He gives the example of Thomas Frank, who wakes up every morning at 5:55 a.m. and he has a scheduled tweet that says: “It’s 6:10 and I’m not up because I’m lazy! Reply to this for $5 via PayPal (limit 5), assuming my alarm didn’t malfunction.” 

If you have an instant punishment for not maintaining your habit you’ll avoid the punishment by sticking to the habit as most as you can.

14. The Goldilocks Zone

This is the right spot where a challenge is not easy enough to be boring or difficult enough to be disappointing. It’s the exact amount of hard work you need to make some progress and feel motivated by the small victories you can achieve without forgetting there’s so much more to grow.

While your brain is working on the right challenge you might experience being in a flow state, time flies and you are completely immersed in the activity you’re performing, this is when real progress is made. Get small new challenges achievable but not so easy not to improve your skills, this will keep you motivated.

15. Why is reviewing your habits important

Once we establish the desired habit and we act on autopilot is very easy to forget to keep challenging ourselves to become better at something greater. 

To actually master a habit we need to reflect from time to time how our habits are taking us to where we want to be, who we want to become, and if we haven’t made progress more than being good at something, try and challenge ourselves to become better, to specialize, find new things to learn from our field of expertise, this way the habits stay interesting and satisfying, it’s a never-ending cycle.

Final Thoughts 

This book opened my mind to a whole new level, I used to take on so many habits at the same time and pushed myself so hard, that the impulse lasted short, I got tired in a week or less when trying to build most habits, I needed those instant results, and when I didn’t get them… the disappointment, the failure.

Now I have the techniques to trick my mind into making hard habits instantly satisfying and I’m definitely going to apply some of this into my life, to become the person I want to be.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to improve and grow, develop new skills and habits but getting frustrated everytime they try, it will open your understanding on human behavior and how to control it in your favor to build new habits.