There are no shortcuts to success; whatever you are looking to achieve, you have to set SMART goals and work on them. There is not any new finding in the previous sentence and so does the book, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. You will not read any new tip that you did not know before, however, you will get a huge leap and push to start mastering what you need in order to succeed in your life.
The book is a perfect recommendation to overcome perfectionism, procrastination, the lack of motivation, and feeling boredom while trying to pursue goals and tasks. Although the idea sounds so disgusting, it is a simple cure for most of the problems that we usually have when we are tested to get things done. Always remind yourself to EAT THAT FROG! And when you have got more than one frog, start with the ugliest one. In this context, the frog is the most difficult, the highest value and the one task that really makes a difference in your progress.
I came across this book a long time ago and it made a difference in my life. I am the kind of person who thinks on papers and prefers to always work from a list. The issue is whenever I have a new thing or a new task; I add it to my master to-do-list. With being very reluctant to saying NO, that means my list becomes bigger every day. “Eat That Frog” philosophy helped me to keep focused on the main tasks that I need to deliver every day. I was not only progressing well but also, luckily, I had a “Done List” where I keep a record of all the tasks that I finished to actually see my progress.
There isn’t just one way to eat that frog. As we may all believe, the most difficult step in achieving any goal is the first step, so Brian Tracy illustrated two methods to help us to develop a momentum, stop procrastination, and start eating our frog(s):
- Salami slice method: when you have to accomplish certain task, start by figuring out all the steps that you need and then work on them one by one just like what you do when you eat a roll of Salami; one slice at a time (or like the famous phrase: eating an elephant one bite at a time). In this way, you will feel that your frog looks smaller as you progress.
- Swiss cheese method: when you have a very big task and you don’t know where to start, just create a hole in the task like a hole in a block of Swiss cheese. That hole can be just committing 5-10 minutes of your time working on that task, after which you do something else. By keep going back to your task and creating holes you will feel that your frog is not that much big anymore and finishing it becomes less difficult.
What I loved the most about the book are the questions that Brain Tracy raised such as:
- “Take stock of your unique talents and abilities on a regular basis. What is it that you do especially well? What are you good at? What do you do easily and well that is difficult for other people? Looking back at your career, what has been most responsible for your success in life and work to date? What have been the most significant frogs you have eaten in the past?“
- “If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?”
- “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?”
Below is a summary for the 21 ways to get things done:
- Set the table: Decide exactly what you want. Clarity is essential. Write out your goals and objectives before you begin.
- Plan every day in advance: Think on paper. Every minute you spend in planning can save you five or ten minutes in execution.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.