I have been procrastinating in writing this article for a while. No one to blame but me. Inertia takes the best of me sometimes. Today I have finally decided to go ahead and eat that live frog and finally do what I preach.
After reading the classic productivity book Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy (I know, I know, I’m late to the party), I get why it has sold more than 500,000 copies.
It’s a short book that gives you practical advice on how to be more productive during the day and not use the cliche term, work smarter, not harder.
The central theme of the book revolves around the idea of finishing your most important, dreaded task first thing so that you can achieve a higher ROI and get momentum to continue with your other tasks (with a lower ROI).
The idea of “eating that frog” comes from Mark Twain, who once said: “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 is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
Brian Tracy says:
“Your frog is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate n if you don’t do something about it. It’s also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.”
Keeping that fundamental concept in mind, here are the top five takeaways I got from Eat that frog:
- Plan every day in advance: This definitely one of the top productivity tips I personally believe in. Part of my night routine now is to look at my calendar for the next day and make sure I block at least some time for deep work to “eat my frog” of the day and eat it really well.
- Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything: This is also called the “Pareto principle,” named after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results.
What does that mean?
Here is how Brian Tracy explains it:
“Often one item on the list of ten tasks that you have to do can be worth more than all the other nine items put together. This task is invariably the frog that you should eat first.”
- Identify your key constraint: It took me a while to understand the importance of identifying that was causing me to procrastinate on some tasks was friction. I live in a small house with a total of five people, there is not enough space to have a dedicated room for an office or a studio.
Every time I had to film a YouTube video I had to move my desk (which is in my room) around, set the lights, the microphone, and all that jazz. It’s a lot of work before I actually do the work.
The minute I placed my desk permanently in one location (that gives me enough lighting) and invested in a selfie mirror that you can just place on your desk, I didn’t have to move furniture around anymore, and I just get to filming. This made filming videos much more enjoyable and reduced my procrastination time.
- Slice and dice the task: Diving a big task into small ones is a must and make it less stressful. For example, I’m ghostwriting a memoir now and it’s a big project with a tight deadline. Instead of adding to my To-do list: “Work on the memoir” I add subtasks within that project.
The subtasks include:
– Creating a timeline in Scrivener.
– Listening to the first recording on Otter.
– Taking notes from the first recording and adding them to the relevant chapters in Scrivener.
– Editing the chapters that were created after the first recording.
You can’t eat your meat or your frog all at once. You will choke. Dividing it into small pieces will make it more malleable
- Single hand every task: I was mistakenly a firm believer in multitasking. I would foolishly tell myself, I’m a mom I can multitask for sure. I will get more things done.
Later I realized that yes, while you can change a diaper while you are on the phone, and cook a meal while responding to text messages when it comes to the live frog, you have to get into deep work, you have to get in a state of flow, and this state won’t be achieved with multitasking.
Now when I work on my frog of the day, I put my phone on focus mode, listen to focus music (Currently listening to Hans Zimmer music) and place a TimeTimer on my desk to keep me on track. My productivity and the quality of the work that I produce have tripled when I do deep work and when I single task instead of multi-task.
So, are you planning to eat a live frog today? I encourage you to do so!