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Eat That Frog Key Ideas

  • “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.”
  • “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”
  • “Continually remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is what you will do immediately and what you will do later if you do it at all.”
  • “The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.”
  • “The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning.”
1. Set the Table
  • “Think on paper.”
  • “One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.”
  • “Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment.”
2. Plan Every Day in Advance
  • “Always work from a list.”
  • “Make your list the night before for the workday ahead.”
  • “You need different lists for different purposes.”
  • “First, you should create a master list on which you write down everything you can think of that you want to do sometime in the future.”
  • “Second, you should have a monthly list that you make at the end of the month for the month ahead.”
  • “Third, you should have a weekly list where you plan your entire week in advance.”
  • “Finally, you should transfer items from your monthly and weekly lists onto your daily list.”
3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything
  • “Before you begin work, always ask yourself, ‘Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent?’”
  • “Resist the temptation to clear up small things first.”
  • “Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.”
4. Consider the Consequences
  • “Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.”
  • “In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term.”
  • “Before starting on anything, you should always ask yourself, ‘What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?’”
  • “Future intent influences and often determines present actions.”
  • “Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term.”
  • “Motivation requires motive.”
  • “Thinking continually about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.”
  • 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.”
  • “There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do.”
Ask yourself:
  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?”
  4. “What is my biggest frog of all at this moment?”
  • “Do first things first and second things not at all.”
5. Practice Creative Procrastination
  • “The difference between high performers and low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”
  • “To set proper priorities, you must set posteriorities as well.”
  • “A priority is something that you do more of and sooner, while a posteriority is something that you do less of and later, if at all.”
  • “You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.”
  • “Say no to anything that is not a high-value use of your time and your life.” (Sam: this is similar to Derek Sivers’s, “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” rule from Anything You Want and Greg McKeown’s philosophy in Essentialism.)
  • “Your job is to deliberately procrastinate on tasks that are of low value so that you have more time for tasks that can make a big difference in your life and work.”
  • “Continually review your life and work to find time-consuming tasks and activities that you can abandon. Cut down on television watching and instead spend the time with your family, read, exercise, or do something else that enhances the quality of your life.”
  • “Look at your work activities and identify the tasks that you could delegate or eliminate to free up more time for the work that really counts.”
  • “Ask yourself continually, ‘If I were not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I start doing it again today?’”
6. Use the ABCDE Method Continually
  • “You start with a list of everything you have to do for the coming day. Think on paper. You then place an A, B, C, D, or E next to each item on your list before you begin the first task.”
  • “An ‘A’ item is defined as something that is very important, something that you must do. This is a task that will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it, like visiting a key customer or finishing a report that your boss needs for an upcoming board meeting.”
  • “A ‘B’ item is defined as a task that you should do.”
  • “The rule is that you should never do a B task when an A task is left undone.”
  • “A ‘C’ task is defined as something that would be nice to do but for which there are no consequences at all, whether you do it or not.”
  • “A ‘D’ task is defined as something you can delegate to someone else.”
  • “An ‘E’ task is defined as something that you can eliminate altogether, and it won’t make any real difference.”
7. Focus on Key Result Areas
  • “Your weakest key result area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.”
  • One of the greatest questions you will ever ask yourself: “What one skill, if I developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”
8. Apply the Law of Three
  • “It is the quality of time at work that counts and the quantity of time at home that matters.”
9. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin
  • Get everything you need at hand before you begin.
  • Brian’s personal rule is “Get it 80 percent right and then correct it later.”
10. Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time
  • Get your mind off the huge task in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take.
11. Upgrade Your Key Skills
  • “Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”
12. Leverage Your Special Talents
Continually ask yourself these key questions:
  1. “What am I really good at? What do I enjoy the most about my work?”
  2. “What has been most responsible for my success in the past?”
  3. “If I could do any job at all, what job would it be?”
13. Identify Your Key Constraints
  • Successful people always begin the analysis of constraints by asking the question, “What is it in me that is holding me back?”
  • Keep asking, “What sets the speed at which I get the results I want?”
14. Put the Pressure on Yourself
  • “To reach your full potential, you must form the habit of putting the pressure on yourself and not waiting for someone else to come along and do it for you.”
  • Work as though you have only one day to get your most important jobs done.
15. Maximize Your Personal Powers
  • “Whenever you feel overtired and overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time, stop yourself and just say, ‘All I can do is all I can do.’”
  • “Take one full day off every week. During this day, either Saturday or Sunday, absolutely refuse to read, clear correspondence, catch up on things from the office, or do anything else that taxes your brain.”
Resolve today to improve your levels of health and energy by asking the following questions:
  1. “What am I doing physically that I should do more of? What am I doing that I should do less of?”
  2. “What am I not doing that I should start doing if I want to perform at my best?”
  3. “What am I doing today that affects my health that I should stop doing altogether?”
16. Motivate Yourself into Action
  • Optimism is the most important quality you can develop for personal and professional success and happiness.
Optimists have four special behaviors, all learned through practice and repetition:
  1. They look for the good in every situation
  2. They always seek the valuable lesson in every setback or difficulty
  3. They always look for the solution to every problem
  4. They think and talk continually about their goals
17. Get Out of the Technological Time Sinks
  • “For you to stay calm, clearheaded, and capable of performing at your best, you need to detach on a regular basis from the technology and communication devices that can overwhelm you if you are not careful.”
  • “For you to be able to concentrate on those few things that make the most difference in your business or personal life, you must discipline yourself to treat technology as a servant, not as a master.”
  • “Resist the urge to start turning on communication devices as soon as you wake up in the morning.”
Keep asking yourself:
  1. “What’s important here?”
  2. “What is important for me to accomplish at work?”
  3. “What is important in my personal life?”
  4. “If I could only do one or two of the activities, which ones would they be?”
  • “Very few things are so important that they cannot wait.”
18. Slice and Dice the Task
Cut a big task down to size using the “salami slice” method of getting work done.
“With [the salami slice] method, you lay out the task in detail and then resolve to do just one slice of the job for the time being, like eating a roll of salami one slice at a time—or like eating an elephant one bite at a time.”
Another technique you can use to get yourself going is called the “Swiss cheese” method of working.
“You use [the Swiss cheese] technique to get yourself into gear by resolving to punch a hole in the task, like a hole in a block of Swiss cheese. You Swiss cheese a task when you resolve to work for a specific time period on it. This may be as little as five or ten minutes, after which you will stop and do something else.”
19. Create Large Chunks of Time
  • “Your ability to carve out and use these blocks of high-value, highly productive time is central to your ability to make a significant contribution to your work and to your life.”
  • “Make work appointments with yourself and then discipline yourself to keep them. Set aside thirty-, sixty- and ninety-minute time segments that you use to work on and complete important tasks.”
20. Develop a Sense of Urgency
  • Highly-effective people launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and objectives.
  • “When you work on your most important tasks at a high and continuous level of activity, you can actually enter into an amazing mental state called ‘flow.’”
  • “One of the ways you can trigger this state of flow is by developing a sense of urgency.”
  • “With this ingrained sense of urgency, you develop a ‘bias for action.’”
  • “When you regularly take continuous action toward your most important goals, you activate the Momentum Principle of success. This principle says that although it may take tremendous amounts of energy to overcome inertia and get started initially, it then takes far less energy to keep going.”
  • “One of the simplest and yet most powerful ways to get yourself started is to repeat the words ‘Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!’ over and over to yourself.”
21. Single Handle Every Task
  • “Every great achievement of humankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done.”
  • “Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.”
  • “Single handling requires that once you begin, you keep working at the task without diversion or distraction until the job is 100 percent complete.”
  • “You keep urging yourself onward by repeating the words ‘Back to work!’ over and over whenever you are tempted to stop or do something else.”


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