21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
Life gets busy. Has Eat That Frog! been on your reading list? Learn the key insights now.
We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have Brian Tracy’s popular book on productivity and overcoming procrastination, order it here or get the audiobook for free on Amazon to learn the juicy details.
How often do you feel that you procrastinate on your tasks? Is there a way to rise above your procrastinating habits?
Imagine you had to eat a live frog first thing in the morning. It’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Eat That Frog! uses this saying as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging tasks of your day. These tasks are often the ones you are most likely to procrastinate on. But they are also the tasks that will most likely impact your life significantly. Eat That Frog! provides 21 tips to organize your life around ‘eating that frog’ faster and more often.
About Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is the Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International. Brian Tracy International specializes in training and development for individuals and organizations. He has researched, written, and spoken for 30 years in economics, history, business, philosophy, and psychology.
Before founding his company, Brian was the Chief Operating Officer of a $265 million development company. Prior to that, he worked in sales and marketing, real estate development, and management consulting. He has also advised several multi-billion-dollar corporations on strategic planning and organizational development.
In 2001, Tracy wrote Eat That Frog to help both individuals and corporate leaders actively improve procrastination habits. The book today is recognized as an international bestseller with over 450,000 copies sold. Below, we have listed the top takeaways for readers.
StoryShot #1: Set the Table
Clarity is essential for productivity. One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity and efficiency is to be clear about your goals. If you can establish clear objectives and not deviate from them, you will instantly improve your productivity.
‘Setting the table’ means defining your objectives. Essentially, this step-by-step process helps you to set and achieve relevant life goals.
- Decide what you want. You can make this decision by yourself or with your manager.
- Write this decision down. This is ‘thinking on paper’.
- Set a deadline for this goal and utilize sub-deadlines. If you do not set deadlines, you establish goals with no urgency.
- Make a list of all sub-tasks integral to achieving your life goals. Keep adding to this list as time progresses.
- Organize your list of sub-tasks into a plan. This plan should consider the order in which you will complete the tasks. You should also create a visual depiction of this plan.
- Take action on your plan immediately.
- Do something daily that moves you toward your ultimate goals. Build these goals into your daily schedule.
These steps keep you motivated and inspire you to be creative. Importantly, they also help you become more productive and procrastinate less.
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StoryShot #2: Plan Daily in Advance
Thinking and Planning Are Key
Overcoming procrastination relies more on your mind than anything else. Your mind dictates how you think, plan, and make decisions. Importantly, your ability to set goals, make plans, and take action significantly impacts your success. The mere act of thinking and planning can positively influence your life. Specifically, thinking and planning unlock your mental powers and creativity and increase energy.
The Six-P Formula
The Six-P formula outlines the importance of effective planning. The formula is: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
The best approach to planning is to make a list of each step required to complete a task or a project. Make sure this list covers every step from beginning to end. Next, prioritize these steps with the most critical tasks at the top of the list. Each of these steps should be part of an integrated plan. Sit back and view the whole list of prioritized tasks. Once you have done this, you should start working through this plan, task by task.
A Step-by-Step Approach to Planning
- Write a list. This list should include everything you have to do before working through this plan’s tasks.
- Work from a list. Your list should be your reference point. Whenever you think of a new required task, you should add it to the list. Even if the task is urgent, you should add the task to the list before doing it.
- Plan ahead. Make sure you develop your initial plans well in advance. For example, try creating your plan the night before at the latest. This preparation will allow your subconscious mind to process this plan overnight. Great ideas will crop up the following morning.
- Update your list. As you are working on your plan, move unfinished items to your list for the coming day. Plus, you can tick off any tasks you have already completed.
Each of these steps applies to the four different types of lists:
- Master List – Everything you want to do in the future. This list contains every idea that you have had and every responsibility that comes up.
- Monthly List – This list is for monthly planning and is populated using the master list.
- Weekly List – This list is for weekly planning and is updated throughout the week.
- Daily List – This list is for daily work. Tick off tasks as you complete them.
StoryShot #3: Apply the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule applies to several phenomena. The same is true of planning. 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Similarly, the following concepts also adopt the 80/20 rule:
- 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales.
- 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits.
The ‘frog’ is the most critical task that will bring you the most success. Specifically, these tasks contribute five or ten times the value of the others. Each day you will have a frog. However, these tasks are often the hardest to complete and most complex to understand. Therefore, the allocation of resources to these tasks is hugely important. You should refuse to work on the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left. Practicing this consistently over time will allow you to develop the habit of focusing on the most critical tasks first.
StoryShot #4: Consider The Consequences of Your Tasks
Considering your tasks’ consequences is an effective way of learning to predict your next frog. It also allows you to maintain a more precise plan for your long-term future. Those who can control their future goals by considering the consequences of their current goals are more likely to be successful.
You should consider how you approach your and your team’s time. This attitude toward time is your Time Horizon. The Time Horizon has a significant impact on your behavior and your choices. Those who think about decisions in a long-term context generally make better decisions and live more fulfilling lives.
Long-term planning is crucial for short-term performance. Successful people are those who can delay gratification. Short-term sacrifices underpin long-term success.
Ask yourself the following three questions to maximize your productivity and eat your most crucial frog first:
- What are my highest-value activities?
- What can I, and only I, do that, if done well, will make a genuine difference?
- What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
StoryShot #5: Practice the ABCDE Method
The ABCDE method is a prioritization technique to help you choose which tasks to procrastinate. Everybody procrastinates. The main difference between success and failure is which tasks people choose to procrastinate.
You have to set posteriorities as well as priorities. Priorities are the tasks you should be doing frequently and as soon as possible. Comparatively, posteriorities are tasks that you don’t need to do immediately. Your success is not entirely dependent on posteriorities.
The ABCDE method is an approach to prioritizing after writing out everything you must do that day.
- A – Tasks you must do and are the highest priority. These frogs are your life, and you can further sub-prioritize them by labeling them A1, A2, and so on.
- B – Tasks you should do. Brian describes these as tadpoles.
- C – Tasks that would be nice to do.
- D – Tasks you can delegate, so you can focus more on the A tasks.
- E – Tasks you can cut from your list. They are tasks that held importance at some point but are no longer relevant.
Always start your day by working on your A1 tasks. Stay on these tasks until completion.
StoryShot #6: Focus on Key Result Areas
Key result areas are areas of work for which you are entirely responsible. If you do not do this work, it won’t get done. Also, the output of these tasks is crucial for the input of other people’s tasks. As a result, these work areas are essential for you and your team to work efficiently.
You can identify key result areas by listing your most crucial output responsibilities. Consider the outputs that others need to start specific tasks. You can seek guidance from others to better understand what outputs are vital to completing their work. After identifying these key result areas, you then have to grade yourself on a scale of one to ten in each of these areas. One denotes this area as extremely weak for you, while ten denotes this area as extremely strong. Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.
StoryShot #7: Obey the Law of Forced Efficiency
It is difficult to accomplish everything you want to do every single day. You may be constrained by time. You may encounter distractions or other priorities cropping up. Or you may just not operate at the same productivity level each and every day. That is why it is important to tackle the biggest thing on your to-do list each day. If you can knock off the most critical item daily, you will always be further along today than you were yesterday.
You can’t eat every tadpole and frog in the pond. However, it is plausible to ensure that you eat the biggest and ugliest frog in the pond. Doing this will set you up for consistent success.
StoryShot #8: Prepare Thoroughly Before Eating
Preparation is an effective way of preventing procrastination from taking over. You can get things done faster by having everything you need before you begin a task.
Here are some tips for preparing yourself to eat your biggest frogs:
- Clear your desk and workspace so they are a blank slate. This might involve having to put everything on the floor.
- After clearing your workspace, you can start setting up your dedicated workspace for this task. Make sure it is comfortable and attractive. It should be a space you are happy working in for extended periods.
- Assume the body language of high performance. This involves sitting up straight, forward, and away from the back of your chair.
StoryShot #9: Do Your Homework
Life is about studying for your own project. You must become a lifelong student of your craft to be successful. A primary reason for procrastination is an inability in a key area of a task. Feeling weak or deficient in a single area is enough to discourage you from starting the job. The more you practice your craft, the better you will become at eating a particular frog type. Plus, the better you are, the more likely you are to start and finish these projects.
Everything is learnable, so you should improve all key skills that underpin your key tasks. Here are some tips on how you can begin to develop these key skills:
- Read books and articles about your specialism for at least one hour daily.
- Take every course and seminar available on your key skills.
- Attend conventions and business meetings run by your company.
- Go to every session and workshop. Sit at the front, take notes, and engage with these sessions.
- Listen to educational audio in your car.
StoryShot #10: Use Your Special Talents
You are a unique individual who has special talents and abilities that nobody else who has ever lived possesses. This means certain things you can do or learn to do will make you extremely valuable. You must learn to identify your areas of uniqueness and then commit to specializing within these areas.
Your success depends on your ability to eat specific frogs faster and better than others.
Here are some questions that will help you identify your areas of uniqueness:
- What am I really good at?
- What has been most responsible for my success in the past?
- If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?
Always focus your efforts on the key tasks that play to your strengths. You cannot put your full effort and time into every task, so you should do so with those you excel in.
We rate this book 4.4/5.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in early 2021. It was updated and fully revised on 10 Dec 2022.
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