Procrastination is one of the measure obstacle people facing in their life. Eat that frog written by brian Tracy has 21 simple & actionable ideas that can help you to become more productive.
Brian Tracy’s Eat that Frog is a result of 40 years of study on time management, personal effectiveness, and efficiency. Out of 21 ways to overcome procrastination, the 18th method is my favorite & helped me a lot to overcome procrastination. So, let’s start a book summary of eat that frog.
1] Set the table
One of the measure reason for procrastination is a lack of clarity about goals and objectives. Not knowing about goals and objectives leads to lack of motivation and confusion.
Only 3% of adults have clear written goals. If you are not writing your goals on paper, it will remain just a wish. So, sit down, take a paper, write it down. Here are the 7 steps for setting goals and objectives.
- Step one: Decide exactly what you want
You need to be very clear about what you wanted to achieve and in what order you wanted to achieve & in what priority you are going to achieve it. You can’t afford to work on low-value task. One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need to be done at all.
- Step two: Write it down
Think on paper. Write down objectives and priorities. There is energy and motivation behind written goals. If goals are not written clearly, they will just create confusion and vagueness.
- Step three: set deadline on your goal
Setting a clear deadline will create urgency. You will never start working unless there is proper deadline. Set deadlines like ” I will lose X Kg weight by this date.”
- Step 4: Make a list of everything you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
Put it down all things you need to achieve your objectives.
- Step 5: Organize the list into plan
Organize by priority and sequence. Every action does not create equal results, so decide what you need to do first and what you can do later.
- Step 6: take action on your plan immediately
The author says, “Average plan vigorously executed is far better than a brilliant plan on which nothing is done.” Do Something immediately.
- Step 7: Resolve to do something every day that move you toward your major goal.
Start taking small actions that align with your gaols every day.
2] Plan every day in advance
Every 10 to 12 minutes spent on planning can save your 100 to 120 minutes. Plan what you are going to do in the next 24 hrs, Plan every week and month in advance.
Lay out all your major goals, projects and task by priority and by sequence. Make Different lists for different purposes. As you work through the day tick off each activity you completed.
This simple act of taking pen and write it down on paper can make you more efficient and productive. It will energize you to take action, gives a sense of accomplishment and feeling of success.
3] Apply the 80/20 rule to everything
The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto noticed that 20% of people in society have 80% money and 80% of people only have 20% money. This 80/20 rule can be applied to every area in your life.
No. of tasks vs importance of task
Only 2 tasks out of 10 create a huge impact though it takes some time to complete 8 tasks and 2 tasks. So, the key is to do the one thing that can give 10 times results than that of 9 tasks together. This one task is your frog you should eat first.
An interesting fact is that average person procrastinates on that single important frog that needed to be eaten first.
Focus on activities, Not accomplishments
People who appear to be busy all the time, see often accomplish very little. This is because they working on low-value task. And they thought I have accomplished many things. But, focus on the importance of activities.
Activities/ tasks that can contribute more to the results are often more complex & hardest but rewards are great. This is the reason you should resist the temptation to clear small tasks first.
4] Consider the consequences
To decide the task is important or not, consider the consequences of doing or not doing it. Long term thinking improves the short term decision making.
When you get a clear idea of what is important to you in the long term makes it easier to make a better decision about short term priorities. Before starting on anything ask yourself,” What are the potential effects of doing or not doing this task?”
Think about the long term
Successful people always think about long term effects and this helps them to delay instant gratification. When you know your efforts will give you greater rewards in future, you can easily overcome procrastination while doing harder things.
Obey the law of forced efficiency
You will always run out of time to do everything, but you can always find time to do the most important thing, this is the law of forced efficiency. This is the reason to eat the biggest and ugliest frog every day.
Deadlines are an excuse
We think that we are more motivated to do work under pressure. But, years of research proves that this is false. Working under deadline often due to procrastination leads to stress and more mistakes in work.
Instead, plan your time carefully, add an extra 20% time to complete the task. You will be amazed at how relax it feels when you do task before deadline.
Three questions for maximum productivity
- What are my highest value activities?
- What is the thing that if I do will make a difference?
- What is the most valueble use of my time right now?
Every time before start doing work, ask these three questions.
5] Practice creative procrastination
For doing high-value tasks, you need to avoid low-value stuff. This will be called creative procrastination. You can always procrastinate on unimportant things like tv watching or spending time on social media etc.
6] Use ABCDE method continuously
An “A” task is something that is very important and has higher consequences. Items in this category are frogs you must eat every day.
“B ” tasks are those that you should do. It has mild consequences. The rule is never do “B” task before “A” task.
“C” list has tasks that look nice to do but has no positive consequences on your day. This task includes phoning a friend or talking political issues with co-worker etc.
“D” task is something you can delegate to someone else.
“E” task is doing something that you can eliminate like checking WhatsApp, scrolling through mobile without any purpose, watching TV etc.
Apply ABCDE method to set clear priorities and take the action immedietly. Start working on “A” tasks.
7] Focus on key result area
Identify your key result areas, well what are those? Key Result area is those tasks that you are solely responsible for. For Ex. Key result area for a good salesperson is getting qualified sales. Let say you are responsible for 4 tasks. Out of 4 tasks you are good at 3 and poor at 1. Your weakest one will decide your height of success. So, work on your weak points.
So, clarity about your key result area is essential. Often, poor performance leads to procrastination. That’s why to develop skills that are necessary for your success.
8] The law of three
There are few things in work or in your life that contribute most towards your goals. If I will ask you to write down three most important goals within 30 seconds, most people will write things related to career, finance and relationships. These are the three domain that everyone wants to improve.
So, find three things that contribute most to each domain of your life. Prioritize and work on them every day. You will be amazed by your achievement in few months.
9] Prepare thoroughly before you begin
The 9th way to stop procrastination is to prepare well before beginning. Do all the research, gather all the data that required for completing the task. Remove all the distractions before you. Then sit and keep doing till works end.
10] Take it one oil barrel at a time
One of the best ways of overcoming procrastination is by dividing tasks in small sizes. In the book, The Now Habit Neil Fiore Said,” Don’t ask when I will complete, instead ask when I am starting ?”
Crossing a great dessert
Many years ago to cross 500 Mile Sahara dessert french people put 55 gallon oil drums every 5 KM so that they never miss the direction despite any storm in their way. All we had to do is to steer for next oil barrel. As a result, we can cross biggest desert by simply taking one oil barrel at a time.
Take one simple step at a time
Take one small step at a time, do the one thing at a time in each domain of your life whether it is financial or personal. Over the time it’s compound effect will greater than your imagination.
11] Upgrade your skills
You will less likely to procrastinate, if you become so good in your field or achieve mastery in your field. Upgrading your skills is important thing to become better at work.
3 steps to achieve mastery
- Read daily 1 hr related to your field
- Take every course or seminar available on your key skill
- Listen to audiobooks or podcast while travelling
When you learn how to do things better and faster, you are less likely to procrastinate.
12] Identify key constraint area
There is something that is holding you back from achieving your goals. These are limiting factors or constraints.
If you apply 80/20 rule to limiting factors, you will find that 80% limiting factors are within yourself. That may be your habits or lack of discipline. Only 20 % constraints are external. Look deeply into yourself, analyze them and correct them to your benefit.
Limiting factor in your way will decide speed and level of your achievement.
13] Put the pressure on yourself
Raise a bar little high every time. Force yourself to do extra one thing. Create imaginary deadlines to overcome inertia of starting. You can imagine you are going for great vacation tomorrow but before that you have to complete the work. Habit of pushing yourself little more will help you overcome procrastination & help you getting more thing done.
14] Motivate yourself to into action
No one will come to motivate you. You have to take charge of your own. Motivation fade when difficult task come along the way. At that time talk yourself like a friend. Often your self-talk play huge role in overcoming procrastination. Always look for solution. Be optimistic.
15] Technology is a terrible master
According to research, people check their smartphones 85 time a day. 80% time they opened their mobile for useless purpose. Track your time usage and save as much as you can. you are not just spending your time, you are actually spending your attention as well.
People fear they will miss important things, if they did not check their smartphone. But if there is something urgent & important, someone will inform you. 80% of emails that you check have no correlation with your goals, they are useless. Unsubscribe from their list.
So, don’t become slave of technology. Use it as a tool.
16] Technology is wonderful servant
If you use technology as a tool without becoming addicted to it you can achieve many things with it. You can manage your tasks, create, reach and update your audience through social media. If you treat it as a servant, technology is very helpful.
Quick Tip– Track your mobile use, using app like “Digital Wellbeing”, turn off your notifications and you will see difference between your time spending. The more you save time and attention, more it can be used for high value things. (I bet that you will never miss any important thing by turning off your notifications).
17] Focus your attention
Attention is the most important asset you have. Don’t waste it on checking emails or news site. When you answer the sound of notification by checking smartphone your brain release dopamine which makes you feel happy, so you repeat that action, again and again, becoming addicted to it.
Multitasking is a myth
When you divide your attention to many things, you get divided results. The human brain is made for handling the one thing at a time.
According to Cal Newport, author of book deep work says, When you switch between one task to another, your attention doesn’t follow immediately, instead some part of it stuck on previous task. When you repeatedly switch between one task to another, your focus decreases which lead to poorer decisions and mistakes.
So, multitasking is a myth. Put your 100% attention on one thing at a time.
18] Slice & Dice the task
Most of us procrastinate looking at longer and bigger tasks. We can use this method to overcome procrastination while facing bigger work. Break the bigger task and break them into smaller steps. Write down all the details of each & every step. Then take action.
Develop a compulsion to closure
Feeling of ending a task i.e compulsion to closure gives us motivation and a sense of achievement. When you break large tasks into smaller steps then this feeling rises up with completion of each step. This will motivate you to work on next step.
Putting in simple words, if you want to read 200 pages book, read 5 pages each day. Reaching till the 5th step you have already developed a momentum that motivates you to read next pages as well.
“Swiss cheese” your tasks
This is another method in which you decide to do certain work only for a small block of time, like punching a small hole in block. Completing a single session will give a sense of achievement and motivates you to spend more time.
Many bestselling authors avoided procrastination & completed their books using these methods.
19] Create large chunks of time
Every successful person set aside a specific time for doing important stuff. Most important work gets done when we spend uninterrupted time working on it. So, develop a habit of working in large chunks of time. Most productive people did the same.
Even, you can set a specific time for replying to emails or checking WhatsApp or getting customers feedback.
20] Develop a sense of urgency
Successful & productive people are action-oriented. They are in a hurry to complete the task. As a result, they get more done than an average person who spends, working on low-value activities.
Getting into flow
You might have experienced a state of flow, it is when you are fully focused, most aware of each and every moment. We become most productive in this state. Developing a sense of urgency can help you to put into “flow”.
Build a sense of momentum
While starting work, inertia holds you back from taking action. But when we start working despite inertia, we built momentum. Then it takes energy to keep you on track. We can build momentum by creating a sense of urgency and working faster.
21] Single handle every task
Set up a plan, prioritize, get all resources and put your all energy into a single task until it gets completed. You will get things done at least 50% faster with highest accuracy. As we have already discussed multitasking is a myth. It will increase your time to complete a task by 500%.
Eat that Frog Review: Why you should read this book?
- This book focuses on planning, prioritizing & getting more things done by overcoming procrastination.
- The language used in this book is easy to read you will understand everything.
- Though some of the tactics repeated, I learned major three things from this book i.e planning & prioritizing, breaking large tasks into smaller ones and developing a sense of overcoming procrastination.
Even if you apply a single method from Brian Tracy’s eat that frog, it will improve your productivity by at least 5 times. So, I recommend you to buy this book.