Book Notes, A Book Summary on the Book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Have you ever heard the phrase “eat that frog?” I never did until I read the book Eat That Frog, 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy.

According to Brian, eating your frog is about tackling your most important, daunting responsibilities, and getting them done. The concept is similar to how you eat an elephant…one bite at a time. Brian’s main point is that you eat your most ugliest frog first, the next ugliest, and so on, until all your frogs are done. When you “eat your frog,” you feel empowered, happier, energized, and are more productive, i.e., you get more done.

The principles Brian shares in his book are principles he has picked up from 30 years of studying time management and has incorporated into his own life. Brain says that time management is life management, so these principles apply to any aspect of your life, especially your business when you’re just getting started and working on it part time. The idea is to take control over what you do and choose the important responsibilities over the unimportant. This is a meaningful determinate of success.

Here is a summary of each rule Brian covers in his book.

rule 1: Set the Table

This rule is about calculating what you want to accomplish. It’s about getting clarity about your goals and objectives. One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is vagueness and confusion about what they want to do. Brian introduces his first Rule of Success: Think on paper. Do you know that people who have clear written goals accomplish 5 to 10 times more than people who don’t?

Brian has a seven step formula for setting and achieving goals:

1. Decide exactly what you want to do (one of the worst time wasters is doing something well that doesn’t need to be at all).

2. Write your goal down. Writing your goal down crystallizes and put energy behind it because it becomes real.

3. Set a deadline on you goal. This gives you a sense of urgency with a beginning and end.

4. Make a list of everything you think you need to do to unprotected to the goal. A visual picture give you a path to follow and increases the likelihood of success.

5. Organize the list into a plan by priority and ordern. You can draw a map of your plan like a flow chart to help you visualize the steps.

6. Take action closest. “Execution is everything.”

7. Resolve to do something everyday that takes you closer to your goal. Schedule your activities and never miss a day.

Having clear written goals affects your thinking and motivates and drives you into action. Written goals stimulate creativity, release energy, help you conquer procrastination, and give you enthusiasm. Think about your goals and review them everyday and take action.

rule 2: Plan Each Day in improvement

This is basically making a to-do list. Just like eating an elephant, you eat a frog one bite at a time. Break you task down into steps. “Thinking and planning unlock your mental powers, cause you creativity, and increase your mental and physical energies.”

The better you plan, the easier to conquer procrastination, to get started, and to keep going. Brian claims that every minute you use planning will save as much as ten minutes in execution. So if you use 10 to 12 minutes planning, you’ll save at the minimum 2 hours (100-120 minutes) in wasted time and effort – very impressive.

Brian’s introduces the Six P Formula for this rule: Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. His tips are: All you need is paper and pen. Always work from a list – if something new comes up, add it to the list. Keep a master list of everything. Make a list for different purposes. Keep a monthly list, which you make at the end of each month for the following month. Keep a weekly list, which you make at the end of the week for the following week. Keep a daily list, which you make as the end of the day for the following day.

The lists satisfy off each other. Check off items as you complete them. Checking the items off gives you a visual record of accomplishment and motivates you to keep going.

Follow the 10/90 Rule of personal effectiveness, which says if you use the first 10% of your time planning and organizing your work before you begin, you’ll save 90% of time getting the work done when you start.

rule 3: Apply the 80/20 Rule

This rule says that 20% of your activities will explain 80% of your results, already when all your activities take the same amount of time to do. The activities that give you the most return on your investment are your frogs. Where you focus your time is the difference between being busy and accomplishing something. You want to eliminate or use less time on your low-value responsibilities. Your most valuable responsibilities are the hardest and most complicate, but give you the most bang for you time, so ask yourself if the task is a 20% task. Brian’s rule here is “Resist the temptation to clear up small thing first.”

Once you begin working on your hardest task, you become motivated to complete it. “A part of you mind loves to be busy working on meaningful responsibilities that can really make a difference. Your job is to satisfy this part of your mind continually.”

Thinking of starting and finishing an important task motivates and helps you conquer procrastination. An important fact to remember is that “The amount of time required to complete an important job is the same time it takes to do an unimportant job.”

rule 4: Consider the Consequences

“The mark of a superior thinker is his or her ability to precisely predict the consequences of doing or not doing anything.” Thinking by the consequences gives you an idea if an activity is important and is a way to determine the significance of a task. Any important task will have long-term possible consequences.

Dr Edward Banfield, from Harvard University, concluded that “the long-time perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility in America” (a scarce trait in our moment gratification world). Your attitude towards time has an impact on your behavior and choices. Thinking about the long-term impact will help you make better decisions, consequently, one of Brian’s rules: “Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.”

Having a future arrangement (5, 10, 20 years out) will allow you to analyze choices and will make your behaviors consistent with the future you want. Ask yourself, “What are the possible consequences of doing or not doing this task?”

Brian’s follow-on rule is “Future intent influences and often determines present actions.” The clearer you are on your future intentions, the better clarity on what to do at the present moment. Having a clear understanding of your future intention helps you estimate a task, delay gratification, and make the necessary sacrifices in the future. Be willing to do what others aren’t so you can have what others want later…greater rewards are in the long-term.

Dennis Waitley, a motivational speaker says, “Failures do what is tension-relieving while winners do what is goal achieving.” Make important responsibilities a top priority and start them now. Time is passing anyway, so decide how you will use it and where you want to end up. Thinking about the consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is the best way to determine your priorities.

rule 5: Practice the ABCDE Method Continually

The ABCDE method is a priority setting technique to help you be more efficient and effective. The assumption behind the technique is that the more you invest in planning and setting priorities, the more important things you will do and do faster once you start.

You start by listing everything you have to do for the day and categorize everything into A, B, C, D, or E.

An “A” is something that is very important that you must do or there will be serious consequences (this is your frog.) A “B” is something you should do that has mild consequences (Brian calls these your tadpoles). A “C” is something that would be nice to do but there are no consequences. A “D” is something that you can delegate to someone, which frees up time for you to work your A. An “E” is something you can eliminate because it makes not difference at all.

Discipline yourself to work your A and stay on it until it is complete. If you have more than one task in each category, label the most important A1, the next A2, etc., and do the same for the other categories. Never do a B before an A, or a C before a B.

rule 6: Focus on meaningful consequence Areas

This rule is about focusing on what you are working towards. Every job can be broken down into “meaningful consequence areas,” which are results you must unprotected to and for which you are responsible. For example, the meaningful consequence areas for management are planning, organizing, staffing, delegating, supervising, measuring, and reporting.

clarify your meaningful consequence areas and list your responsibilities for each. Then grade yourself on a extent of 1-10 in each consequence area. Where are you strong? Where are you ineffective? Are you getting results or under performing? Brian’s rule for this area is “Your weakest meaningful consequence area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.” Essentially, your weakest area limits your overall performance.

This leads to another reason people procrastinate-they avoid things where they have performed poorly in the past. Procrastination doesn’t usually happen in an area you’re good in. Ask yourself, “What one skill, if I developed and did in an excellent fact, would have the greatest positive impact in my career” (or life, or business)? Ask those around you. Then set a goal to enhance in that ineffective area.

rule 7: Obey the Law of Forced Efficiency

“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” Brian’s rule that applies here is “There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do.” (That’s a hard pill to swallow and something we probably subconsciously know but don’t accept.) A fact Brian states in his book is that the average person is working at 110-130% of capacity, which method you will never get caught up. So that method you need to stay on top of your most important responsibilities.

People create more stress for themselves when they procrastinate and put themselves under the pressure of a deadline. When you’re up against a deadline, you tend to make more mistakes. The questions to ask yourself on a regular basis are:

1. What are my highest value activities?
2. What can I, and only I, do that, if done well, will make a real difference?
3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?

The answers to these questions will clarify your biggest frog at the moment. “Do first things first and second things not at all.”

rule 8: Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin

This rule method preparing and having everything you need ready before you begin your task. Have everything you need freely obtainable in front of you. Remove everything that’s not going to help you. Create a workspace you’ll enjoy working in.

rule 9: Do Your Homework

“Learn what you need to learn so that you can do your work in an excellent fact.”

Other reasons for procrastination are feelings of inadequacy, without of confidence, and without of competence in a meaningful area of a task. To conquer these issues, work on your development. specialized development is one of the best time savers there is. Brian’s rule here is “Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.” Keep on improving your skills.

rule 10: Leverage Your Special Talents

clarify your rare skills and commit yourself to becoming good in these areas, then apply your knowledge and skills (no one can ever take those away). Ask yourself, “What am I really good at?” “What do I enjoy the most about my work?” “What has been most responsible for my success in the past?” “If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?” Focus on your best energies and abilities.

rule 11: clarify Your meaningful Constraints

Limiting factors affect how quickly and how well you get your task done. They are the basic path or choke point to achieving your goal. clarify your limiting factors by asking yourself what is holding you back, then focus on alleviating those factors as much as possible. Getting rid of those limiting factors usually brings more progress in a shorter time than anything else.

The 80/20 Rule applies here too-80% of the constraints are internal, only 20% are external. Those constraints can be as simple as a thought or belief. Accept responsibility and get rid of your restriction.

rule 12: Take it One Oil Barrel at a Time

A saying about tackling anything is “by the yard, it’s hard, but inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” Taking an “one oil barrel at a time” is the same concept. Brian talks about a trip in Algeria by the Sahara Desert. Because of the vastness of the desert and the without of landmarks, the French had placed empty oil barrels on the road as markers. The barrels were placed 5 kilometers apart, so you could always see the next barrel. So the meaning of this rule is to go as far as you can see, and when you get there, you can see farther. Step out on faith, have confidence, and the next step will become clear.

rule 13: Put Pressure on Yourself

The intent behind this rule is to take charge of you life before you end up waiting for a rescue that will never come. Be a leader, someone who can work without supervision, which according to Brian is only about 2% of people. Set standards for yourself higher than you would for others and go the additional mile.

This is all about self-esteem, which is your reputation of yourself, as defined by psychologist Nathaniel Brandon. Everything you do affects your self esteem. Push yourself and you’ll feel better about you.

rule 14: Maximize Your Personal Powers

Physical, mental, and emotional energies make up your personal performance and productivity. So guard and nurture your energy level. Rest when you need to. When you’re rested, you get much more done.

A general rule is that productivity tends to decline after about 8-9 hours. clarify the times you are at your best and use that time to work on your frogs. Take time out to rest, rejuvenate, eat well, and exercise.

rule 15: Motivate Yourself Into Action

This rule is about controlling your thoughts and being your own cheerleader. Coach and encourage yourself. How you talk to yourself determines your emotional response.

How you interpret things that happen to you determines how you feel. How you feel can motivate or de-motivate you. Become an optimist and don’t let setbacks and negativity affect your mood.

“In study after study, psychologists have determined that ‘optimism’ is the most important quality you can develop for personal and specialized success and happiness.”

Brian identifies 3 behaviors of an optimist.

1. Look for the good in every situation.
2. Seek the valuable lesson in every setback or difficulty.
3. Look for the solution to every problem.

When you visualize your goals and talk to yourself positively, you feel focused, energized, confident, creative, and have a greater sense of control and personal strength.

rule 16: Practice Creative Procrastination

This is a personal performance rule about putting off doing smaller, less ugly frogs. Ultimately, you can’t do everything (remember rule 7, Obey the Law for Force Efficiency?), so procrastinate on low value activities (bonus: you get to choose which ones).

This is a matter of setting priorities, something you do more of and sooner, and setting “posteriorities,” something you do less of and later. The rule that applies here is “You can set your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower value activities.”

Say “no” to low value use of your time and life and say “no” early and often, because you don’t have spare time. Thoughtfully and deliberately decide what things you are not going to do right now. Avoid the unconscious inclination to procrastinate on the big, hard, valuable, important responsibilities.

You are responsible for evaluating your activities and identifying those that are time-consuming with not real value. Get rid of them or delegate them (um, sounds like rule 5, Practice the ABCDE Method). Practice “zero-based thinking.” Ask yourself, “If I was not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I get into it again today?” If you get a yes answer, it’s an “E.”

rule 17: Do the Most Difficult Task First

This is the hardest, most difficult rule because you’re “eating your frog.” Brian outlines 7 steps to gain this skill (these steps are a nice summary of the some of the principles we have already covered):

1. At the end of the day/weekend, make a list of everything you have to do the next day. 2. Review the list using the ABCDE method combined with the 80/20 rule. 3. Select you A1 task, the one with the most harsh consequences. 4. Gather everything you need to start and finish the task; get it ready to start the next morning. 5. Clear your workspace so you’re only ready to start your A1 task. 6. Discipline yourself to get up, get ready, and start the task without interruptions before you do anything else. 7. Do this for 21 days (creates the habit).

When you get into the habit of doing the most difficult task first, you’ll double your productivity in less than a month, and you’ll break the habit of procrastination.

Learn to say “Just for today,” as you’re developing your new habit. “Just for today, I will plan, prepare, and start on my most difficult task before I do anything else.”

rule 18: Slice and Dice the Task

This rule is the “salami slice” approach to getting work done. Do one slice of the task at a time. Psychologically, it’s easier to do a smaller piece that to start on the whole job-like eating an elephant. We tend to want to do another slice when we get done with one. People have a thorough subconscious need to bring finality to a task, the “urge to completion.” We feel happier and more powerful when we start and finish a task because endorphins are released-the bigger the task, the bigger the sense of accomplishment.

This approach is also known as the “Swiss cheese” method; you punch a hole in the task by spending a specific amount of time on the task.

rule 19: Create Large Chunks of Time

This rule is about scheduling time to work on large responsibilities. To make meaningful progress on your responsibilities, you need blocks of high-value, high productivity time. The meaningful is to plan your day in improvement and schedule fixed blocks of time, especially for things you don’t enjoy doing. Make an appointment with yourself (sounds a lot like rule 2, Plan Each Day in improvement).

Eliminate distractions and work nonstop. “Deliberately and creatively organize the concentrated time periods you need to get your meaningful jobs done well and on schedule.”

rule 20: Develop a Sense of Urgency

The basis of this rule is to be action-oriented. A sense of urgency is an “inner excursion and desire to get on with the job quickly and get it done fast.” Take the time to think, plan, and set priorities, then work them. Create a mental state of “flow,” which is the “highest human state of performance and productivity.”

In the “flow” state, you feel elated, clear, calm, efficient, happy, and accurate. Everything you do seems effortless. You function at a higher plane of clarity, creativity, and competence. You are more sensitive and aware.

Developing a “sense of urgency” triggers the flow state. Race against yourself; develop a “bias for action.” Develop a fast tempo which goes hand and hand with success.

When you become action-oriented, you cause the “Momentum rule of Success.” You end up using less energy to keep moving than the energy it takes to get started. The faster you move, the more energy you have, and the more you get done. Repeat to yourself, “Do it now!” When you find yourself distracted, tell yourself, “Back to work!”

rule 21: Single Hand Every Task

This rule is about concentrating single-mindedly on your frog until it’s done, which is the meaningful to high level performance and personal productivity. Hard, concentrated work precedes every great achievement. You can reduce the time to finish a task by 50% or more when you concentrate single-mindedly, according to Brian.

Starting and stopping can increase the time to finish a task by an estimated 500% because you have to get reacquainted with the task and conquer inertia to get started again. When you stop, you break the cycle and move backwards. Develop momentum by getting into a “productive work rhythm.” “The more you discipline yourself to working non-stop on a single task, the more you move forward along the ‘efficiency curve.'” You get more high quality work done in less time.

Success requires self-discipline, self-expert, and self control. Elbert Hubbard defines self-discipline as “the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” Starting, persisting, and finishing a task is a true test of character, will, and resolve. Persistence is self-discipline in action. You end up liking and respecting yourself better. You shape and mold your character and become a superior person.


There you have it, 21 principles for overcoming procrastination so you can “eat your frog.” As a consequence of integrating these principles into your work habits, you will be happy, satisfied, feel a sense of personal strength and effectiveness, and will become a great success. Fortunately, all this principles can be learned by repetition. As a recap, here they are:

1. Set the table.
2. Plan every day in improvement.
3. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything.
4. Consider the consequences.
5. Practice the ABCDE method continually.
6. Focus on meaningful consequence areas.
7. Obey the Law of Forced Efficiency.
8. Prepare thoroughly before you begin.
9. Do you homework.
10. Leverage your meaningful special talents.
11. clarify your meaningful restraints.
12. Take it one oil barrel at a time.
13. Put the pressure on yourself.
14. Maximize your personal powers.
15. Motivate yourself into action.
16. Practice creative procrastination.
17. Do the most difficult task first.
18. Slice and dice the task.
19. Create large chunks of time.
20. Develop a sense of urgency.
21. Single-manager every task.

I recommend you read the book. Don’t let the number 21 scare you. The book is an easy read and Brian gets straight to the point-no additional fluff. You’ll gain a better understanding of the principles, and the better you understand them, the better you’ll be able to apply them to your business and life. The assistance is you get to successfully “Eat that frog!”

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