Ever heard of Eat That Frog method? Don’t worry, most of us haven’t. In this guide, we’ll walk through what you need to know to implement this productivity method on your own life.
First, do you suffer from any of these “conditions”?
- You struggle with procrastination.
- You get things done, but you’re not making progress on the stuff that matters.
- You have a hard time deciding on what to work on.
- You feel overwhelmed by your monster size to-do list.
If you do, then read on!
Eat That Frog is a productivity method that is developed by productivity consultant Brian Tracy, author of the Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Perhaps it’s name itself that creates the attention. Brian named the method after Mark Twain’s vivid piece of advice, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. Whether he actually said or wrote this can be debated.
“If your job to eat a frog, then it’s best to eat it in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Applied to the real world, the “frog” would symbolize the most impactful and essential task you have to complete on a given day, week, or month. And if you eat that frog in the morning, or when you are the most productive, then you’ll get more done.
It doesn’t mean that you can then call it a day, you’ll still work on other things. It’s about prioritizing the most impactful task in the morning, before any other less important but more urgent tasks can get in the way.
Why should you even care about this method
- It promotes a habit of “focus”.
In today’s workplace or personal life, we’re so easily distracted. Emails, meetings, chat messages, requests for feedback, the list goes on. This constant interruption won’t do you any kind and will direct your work on what you think is urgent but rarely important. You’re not mentally focused on one thing. This method deliberately pushes back against all these typed of distractions, allowing you to have a distraction-free time when you can focus on what matters the most and bring you closer to your goals.
- It's a simple approach
Even though Eat That Frog consists of 21 principles, the approach is simple and easy to follow, which is different from many other productivity approaches, where the maintenance of it can be a task itself. Another advantage is the flexibility the system offers, the ability to apply it to your daily routine immediately. Eat That Frog is a simple yet powerful productivity method to ensure you make progress on tasks that have an impact and move you closer to your goals.
- It drives you to set your own agenda.
When you kick-off your workday, you typically check your emails first, just to know what’s happening. Immediately you’re sucked in the “what others want you to get done” loop, and you’ll find your time rushing away from you. Eat the Frog asks you to put an agenda first before you check any emails or answer any chats.
The Principles of the Eat That Frog Productivity Method
The book is broken down into 21 chapters that are easy to digest, applicable and could be life-changing if you really put them into practice. As always, the book on its own won’t change you. You have to take the initiative to eat your frog.
Let’s dive into a few of Tracy’s principles to get you started. Below you’ll find a summary of some of the principles that Tracy talks about. For full insight, we recommend reading the book.
1. Work on defining your goals and write them down
“Write out your goals and objectives before you begin”
- Brian Tracy
Perhaps we take this for granted, but it’s still often overseen, and we typically underestimate what it means to have something in writing.
To identify your frog, you need to decide what you want and be as exact as possible. Clarity is critical! Tracy argues that perhaps the most significant cause of waste is lack clarity, as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll know how to break down your tasks to reach your goals.
One secret is to think on paper. Work out your personal goals, or work with your lead to define your primary work-related goals. Then write them down so you can reflect on them over and over again.
“A goal that is not written down is just a fantasy,” Tracy says.
Once you’ve defined a goal, set a deadline, and break it down into all the tasks needed to achieve that goal. It’s these tasks that serve as your frogs, and it’s one of these tasks you should strive to complete in one given day. In other words, it’s the things you want to work on first every day.
2. Plan your work in advance
“Every minute spend on planning can save five or ten minutes in execution”
- Brian Tracy
Tracy argues that for proper planning, you’ll first need a master list of tasks that you need to complete. Then use different lists that are broken down into different time intervals.
- A daily list of all the tasks to complete
- A weekly list of all the tasks to complete
- A monthly list of all the tasks to complete
It’s vital to plan your list of tasks in advance. Every night, list down all the items you must complete the next day. For a weekly list, plan for the week ahead. Monthly list, plan for the month ahead.
By doing so, it will be obvious what frog to kick off in the morning after, and what you are up against later that week or month.
3. Focus on your 20% tasks, Pareto logic
“Twenty percent of your activities will account for eight percent of your results. Always concentrate your efforts on that top twenty percent” - Brian Tracy
As the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states, roughly eighty percent of the effects come from twenty percent of the causes.
Tracy argues that if you focus on your frogs, you’ll always be prioritizing the 20% tasks that are the most impactful and essential.
You do need to spend time prioritizing your tasks for this to happen, but in all, it’s a significant reason why you need to break down your goals into tasks and work on one task every day/morning.
With your energy focused on the 20%, you won’t be spending all of your time on less-important, non-urgent (80%) tasks, that won’t get you closer to your goals.
4. Think of potential 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” - Brian Tracy
Successful people can look beyond the 5-year horizon, into the future, and make decisions that bring them closer to their long term goals.
When looking at your to-do list, it’s easy to think that you need to do everything on it. But is this really true? In reality, there are always things that simply don’t need to be done. Or, can be delegated to others.
When you are considering whether you should do this task or not, ask yourself what the consequences are for your long term vision. What’s the impact of not doing it.
Rather than set deadlines for everything, and feel stressed about it, use this approach to find your frogs and delete or delegate any other time-wasting work.
5. Get ready to procrastinate
“Since you can’t do everything, you must learn to deliberately put off tasks that are of low value so you can focus on what really matters” - Brian Tracy
Tracy argues that everyone procrastinates, but there’s one significant difference between those who achieve their goals and those that are not; what they choose to procrastinate on.
We often feel bad when procrastinating, but mainly this is because we typically choose to procrastinate on something that’s important, our frogs. These frogs are often more complicated tasks that we so quickly put off, and instead, we focus on those low-value “quick to achieve” tasks.
It’s human psychology, we seek instant gratification, so we go after the more manageable tasks. Instead, think long term, and you’ll make better short-term decisions.
To avoid procrastinating on your most important tasks, Tracy recommends procrastinating on our 80% tasks intentionally.
Key takeaways from Eat that Frog productivity method
The key to success is not to try to do everything but to maintain focus on the most vital tasks, take action, and complete them well. The approach is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of set up. To get started, follow this simple approach:
- Define your goal, and decide what you want to do
- Write it down, think on paper, make it tangible and set a deadline
- List down what you need to do to achieve your goal
- Break things down into tasks and the smallest possible subtasks
- Prioritize your tasks and get rid of anything that you don’t need to do
- Schedule time on your calendar every day to work on your tasks/frogs
- Take action immediately. Action is more important that thinking.
- Focus on your tasks/frogs until they are completed
This is the core of the Eat That Frog method, and even if there are other principles, they are more to support your efforts and educated on things like poor planning, interruptions, and negative thinking.
If you make the decision to start following this approach, then do so until they become second nature to you, a habit.