Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review—Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog! is a pithy business success book that is effective and short. Basic premise: begin each day with the most important and difficult task that will have the greatest impact on your job and life. After that, everything will seem easy in comparison.

"It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.

Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment."

Key Lessons

For my own memory and reference, here are the key points from the rest of the book:
  1. It’s too easy to get started on easier, more palatable tasks, including responding to emails. Resist this temptation and instead complete the truly important items. Otherwise this leads to habits of starting with unimportant things; such habits are hard to break.
  2. Set the table—have clear, written goals, and resolve to do something every day to move you closer to those goals.
  3. Plan every day in advance—How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Planning the night before allows you to get clear momentum in the morning in addition to letting your subconscious brain work on your tough problems while you sleep. Think it through on paper.
  4. Apply the 80/20 rule—20% of your activities will result in 80% of the results. Focus on the important rather than the urgent.
  5. Consider the consequences—This can help distinguish the important from the merely urgent. Having clear goals makes this easier. “Rule: There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do”. There isn’t enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing. Acknowledging this reality is quite a relief.
  6. For items that do not align with your priorities and goals, learn to say “no”.
  7. Practice “zero-based thinking”—ask yourself “If I were not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I start doing it again today?” If not, delete/delegate. (This concept is also referred to as the sunk cost fallacy)
  8. ABCDE method—To help the most important activities get to the top of the to-do list, assign priority to each one, either A (very important, must do), B (should do, mild consequences), or C (nice to do, effectively no consequences). D = delegate (maximize this), E = eliminate (inconsequential habits or items no longer relevant). Then even among the A items, decide which one comes first (the biggest frog) by labeling it A1, A2, etc.
  9. “What one skill, if I developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”
  10. Keep the pressure on yourself to focus on the important projects and keep at them. It’s quality of time at work, quantity of time at home. Remind yourself “do it now” and "back to work".
  11. Empower yourself to ignore emails that don’t relate to important goals and relationships. Turn off phone notifications and ignore the daily news. If something is really important, someone will tell you (highly related to being proactive, which is habit #1 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
  12. Check work email only twice a day, ideally. Move closer to that by turning off notifications and keeping email closed when you are not actively working on it.
  13. Set aside large blocks of time for completing critical tasks. Schedule the big rocks.
  14. Single handle each task—the opposite of multitasking. Keep working without distraction until the task is complete, building momentum.


I’d recommend this book to almost anyone since it’s so short and impactful. Really, the big message is the same as the third of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (“put first things first”, and actually, almost all of the habits are touched on), so there is some overlap there, but Brian Tracy’s writing style is so motivating it’s worth it.

What is the most powerful success tidbit you've found?


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