Eat That Frog – Book Summary
Follow the 6-step formula for becoming an ultra achiever:
- Motivate yourself into becoming a top performer
- Identify your strengths & weaknesses and improve yourself
- Insure from failures - develop a sense of urgency, disconnect from the world, and maximize your powers
- Prioritize ruthlessly - only work on tasks that make a huge difference
- Plan thoroughly - introduce multiple lists for different time frames
- Perform exceptionally - deliver complex projects like an unstoppable machine
The book has 21 highly effective productivity weapons that, when mastered fully, help produce more results in one day than most people achieve in a week time. The only thing that could be improved is breaking down a flat list of 21 chapters into related categories. And that is exactly what we did by reorganizing the chapters into the six main categories:
We sorted these 6 sections in a logical order starting from motivation and ending with peak performance habits.
Let's dive straight into it !
1. Using Motivational Weapons
The below three chapters deliver an effective recipe for motivating yourself into action.
Chapter 14 - Put The Pressure On Yourself
No one cares about your success and it's up to you shape your destiny.
Therefore it is your responsibility to put pressure on yourself. When you are alone, work like everyone else is watching no matter what you do for living.
Constantly push yourself. Follow Jim Ronh's adice: "Don't with life would be easier, wish you were better"
Chapter 4 - Consider The Consequences
Avoid making the same mistake most people do when making decisions: using short-term thinking. Most things that feel good now are terrible for your future and vice versa. Super achievers are willing to sacrifice instant gratification and sacrifice now, to reap insane rewards in the future.
Do the following:
- Understand the critical law of forced efficiency to make the right decisions: there is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important things
- Identify your long-term goals (go as far as 5, 10, 20 years from now) and write them down
- Use long-term thinking when making decisions - before jumping on the next task or project ask yourself if it will get you closer to your dreams
- Look from the opposite perspective and ask yourself what the potential consequences are of working on a specific task. Will your future self suffer from doing what you are about to do in one way or another?
- Ask yourself what the most valuable use of your time is right now to determine your true priorities
Chapter 16 - Motivate Yourself Into Action
Unless you are a super star in your field, you have to master the skill of being your own cheerleader.
Unwavering self-belief is critical in any field if you want to achieve serious goals:
- When faced with adversity asked yourself "What's good about this negative situation ?". Learn how to prevent similar problems in the future and boost your resilience levels
- Don't focus on problems, focus on solutions
- Know that your hard work will eventually pay off, just keep going in the meantime and keep improving
2. Identifying Strengths And Weaknesses
While Tracy doesn't refer to the well known concept of SWOT analysis in his book, there are a few chapters that fall into this category to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
Chapter 12 - Leverage Your Special Talents
Identify your strengths and find out which one skill brought you enormous results so far. Ask yourself these critical questions:
- What do I enjoy the most?
- What am I extremely good at?
- Given my goals, if I could do only ONE thing what would it be ?
Chapter 08 - Apply The Law Of Three
- There are three main tasks that deliver the most value to your organisation or your business.
- Take the time to think and find out what they are and focus on them
- Delegate or eliminate everything else
Let's move on to weaknesses from the SWOT diagram above.
Chapter 11 - Upgrade Your Key Skills
Once you have identified your key strengths and core tasks commit to:
- developing and improving those skills on a constant basis
- reading books, listening to audio books, taking courses, and going to conferences
- improving skills through practical experience
Because if you don't, you will soon find yourself scrambling for breadcrumbs instead of being in huge demand.
Chapter 13 - Identify Your Key Constraints
True champions understand the theory of constraints and constantly analyze and act upon their weaknesses:
What is the number ONE limiting factor that holds me back ?
- A missing skill in business or employment?
- A low self-belief?
- An unconstructive environment (colleagues, employees, friends, family members?)
Find it, and make this element in the chain the strongest to strengthen the whole chain.
Then find the next weakest element in the chain and repeat.
Time to transition to threats from the SWOT analysis matrix.
Chapter 04 - Consider The Consequences
We have already covered this chapter just a minute ago. It's just that it naturally fits into the category of identifying strengths and weaknesses.
To re-iterate, it's critically important to understand and digest the long-term consequences of working on the wrong tasks and projects or using the wrong methodologies and making the wrong decisions.
Understand the long-term consequences of doing something that requires a large chunk of time and re-prioritize if necessary.
OK, let's jump to the last quadrant of the SWOT analysis matrix: opportunities.
Chapter 07 - Focus On Key Result Areas
You absolutely must know what the key result areas are to deliver results and break through in life:
- What ONE skill, if I developed and did it perfectly, would have the greatest positive impact on my career or business ?
- What are my most important responsibilities and tasks ?
- Why was I hired, why did I start this business, why did I start a family ?
Once you have identified those key result areas confirm them with your stakeholders (manager, partner, spouse, family members, etc) and focus on them as much as possible.
3. Insuring From Failures
While the next 3 chapters are scattered in the book and it looks like they are not related, if you think about it, all 3 of them are aimed at helping you reduce the number of epic failures. No one has achieved great things without failing badly, but why not to save time by making less mistakes and learning from other people's misfortunes ?
Chapter 20 - Develop a Sense Of Urgency
To achieve great results separate yourself from unproductive people who only talk about what they are about to do but never start or complete anything. Instead develop a sense of urgency and bias for action as follows:
- Identify your goals and objectives
- Just get started on the next task no matter how tiny it is
- Focus on the task long enough without interruptions to get into the state of "flow". This will make you unstoppable
- Put pressure on yourself with a sense of urgency while working on the task
- Take advantage of the compound effect: although it may take enormous amount of time to overcome inertia and get started, it then takes far less effort to keep going
Chapter 17 - Get Out Of The Technological Time Sinks
Technology is useful to an extent but we often abuse it by becoming enslaved to our smart phones, emails, messengers, and other tools.
To be able to perform at your best disconnect from the world on a regular basis:
- treat technology as a servant, not a master
- prevent the technology from stealing your life - avoid jumping on smart phones and checking emails first thing in the morning
- prioritize ruthlessly, ask yourself "What's really important?". Understand that most things are unimportant, and only a few vital things truly matter. Find them and focus on them.
Don't let the technology and distractions to derail your life.
Chapter 15 - Maximize Your Personal Powers
Avoid mental collapses. When overtired and overwhelmed:
- Admit you are not a machine - say "All I can do is all I can do"
- Take one full day off every week - refuse to do anything work or business related. Recharge batteries with friends and family. Do nothing that puts pressure on your cognitive abilities
- Identify how to extend the life of your batteries:
- Physical activities - what makes me stronger? What should I do more? What makes me weaker? What should I do less?
- Health - what am I doing that improves my health and gives me energy? How can I do more of it? What drains my health? How can I prevent it?
- Results - what am I doing that's working? How can I do more of it? What's a waste of my time? How can I do less of it?
4. Prioritizing Ruthlessly
The next phase is to understand how to prioritize tasks and projects to achieve more in less time.
Chapter 01 - Set The Table
There is absolutely no way to arrive to a place that doesn't exist. Right?
Therefore begin with the end in mind:
- Decide what your goals are and work backwards
- Write them down and make them visible - it's crucially important
- Set a deadline - goals without clear dates are mere dreams with wishful thinking
- Make a list of everything that needs to be completed at a high level. The list doesn't have to be perfect at this stage
- Choose the next action and take action daily
Chapter 03 - Apply The 80/20 Rule To Everything
Revive or understand the 80/20 principle: 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. To choose the next task or project:
- Ask yourself: "Is the complexity low and the value is high ?"
- Resist completing insignificant and easy tasks that have no value but feel good
- Develop the ability to choose between radically important and totally useless
Understanding and mastering this principle will multiply your life many times over.
Chapter 05 - Practice Creative Procrastination
Extremely successful people deliberately procrastinate on tasks of low value. Repeat their success by:
- Saying NO to good things to say YES to great ones
- Logging every task and project but not working on them immediately. If they are not important they will be buried forever in your logging system instead of constantly draining your valuable willpower
- Asking yourself "If I were not doing this already, knowing what I know now, would I start doing it again today?". Understand the Endowment effect: we become emotionally attached to things or activities we have or do and it's hard to let go, even if we don't need it anymore.
Chapter 06 - Use The ABCDE Method Continually
Tracy suggests using a very simple yet brilliant prioritization system for overcoming the feeling of being overwhelmed called the ABCDE method. Mark all of the tasks or projects on your list as follows:
- A - critically important. The future of your career or business will be derailed if this task is not completed.
- B - should do. It's important for the success of the project but no major consequences will be incurred if it's not completed immediately.
- C - nice to do. It will have ZERO difference to the success of the project whether this task is completed or not.
- D - can be delegated. Whether it's important or not, the task can be delegated to someone else.
- E - can be eliminated. Doing this task equals to derailing your life. Absolutely useless activity that shouldn't even appear on your list in the first place. What were you thinking?
If we combine Brian Tracy's ABCDE method with Stephen Covey's time management grid from the 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People we will get the following:
5. Planning Thoroughly
Once the priorities have been sorted the next phase is to plan effectively. And that's exactly what chapter 2 is all about.
Chapter 02 - Plan Every Day In Advance
With this principle Brian suggests introducing multiple lists into your productivity workflow as illustrated below:
Here is how to use this approach step-by-step:
- Create a master list with everything you want to achieve. Log all ideas there as they come to you at any time
- Create a monthly plan at the end of each month. Follow the 80/20 rule and choose the most important high-level projects and tasks from the master list to work on in the upcoming month
- Create a weekly plan before the week starts. Follow the 80/20 rule and choose the most important tasks from the monthly list
- Create a daily plan the night before. Follow the 80/20 rule and choose the most important tasks from the weekly plan.
By sticking to this formula you will always be in control of working on the most important thing every single day.
6. Performing Exceptionally
The final phase of Brian's productivity system is performing at a daily level. Now, that the projects and tasks have been prioritized and planned, it's time to execute like a champion using a very simple yet extremely powerful process as illustrated below:
Chapter 10 - Take It One Oil Barrel At A Time
The first step in the process of effective execution is to take it one step at a time: to choose this ONE frog you are going to work on. But why frog? Why this name for the book?
Mark Twain once said:
"If you have to eat a frog first thing in the morning, you know there will be nothing more difficult for the rest of the day"
The idea is to start with the most important and urgent task and if you have many, well, just choose the ugliest one!
Chapter 18 - Slice And Dice The Task
Once the frog has been selected, the next step is to split the task into multiple "more digestible" pieces to make it easier to complete.
The reason for that is very simple: having multiple sub-tasks reduces the friction and eliminates procrastination as it is much easier to start.
Choose the simplest entry point (sub-task) and get on with it. The rest will be way easier.
Chapter 09 - Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin
Before starting a task ensure you have every everything you need:
- clean your desk, remove the clutter to eliminate visual distractions
- if you are in front of a computer, close all programs and browser tabs
- switch off all notifications in all of your devices
- and finally, collect all the necessary information you need to get started
Chapter 19 - Create Large Chunks Of Time
There is only one missing piece in the puzzle of delivering more with less time at this point: your ability to carve out and use large chunks of time (30 minutes - 2 hour blocks). There are a number of reasons for that:
- multi-tasking doesn't work, it hurts. Hence you main goal is to declare the war on interruptions
- large chunks of time help you create the momentum and keep going until the task has been completed
- your day has a few solid blocks of time and as a result is not scattered. You can and enjoy the results most people don't even dream about
Chapter 21 - Single Handle Every Task
Those people who fail to master this step never see any serious project through. Instead, they keep jumping from one idea to another failing every single time without exception.
Your ability to concentrate and persist in completing a task from start to finish without switching to another one will be paramount in the journey of designing a successful life.
Once you have started a task never let it unfinished. If you followed the above process, the task at hand is extremely important and therefore, not completing it is not negotiable. Get it done and dusted and move on to the next one.
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