It was more than 20 years ago Brain Tracey first released his book Eat That Frog! and more than a decade ago when I first read it and started applying the philosophy from it.
I have been incredibly busy during the last 2 months traveling to the other side of the world and back and juggling many personal and business tasks, and the principles for how to prioritise by importance to achieve goals have never been more important to me.
In simple terms a frog is not only a task you are likely to avoid, it’s one that’s going to have the biggest positive impact on your life. If we learn to face doing the things we feel uncomfortable with because they appear difficult and strenuous, and if we learn to do them first, the rewards are greater productivity, better success, and you’ll reach your aspirations more quickly.
In the book there are 21 core principles, I won’t go into them all in this article, however I wanted to share a few to help you build a structure and hopefully take something away to have more free productive time in your day.
Define your goals
Lack of clarity is one of the biggest causes of procrastination. You need to know exactly what it is you are striving to achieve. Your long-term goals should be written down, Tracey states “Unwritten goals lead to confusion, vagueness, misdirection, and numerous mistakes.”. Once defined set deadlines against each of them. If you want to eat that frog, you need to know what a frog looks like.
Have a plan for the week
If you want to do the most challenging and rewarding first thing in the morning, you’ll need to already have a plan for what you are going to do each day so that when a new bigger more ugly frog turns up you know which needs to be eaten first.
Your planning strategy should include a master list of the long-term strategic, monthly, weekly and daily to ensure your planning is getting your most important tasks done.
Some people prefer to schedule every single hour of their day down to the last minute. Others prefer to keep things a little more open and structured, scheduling blocks of time for different tasks. And still others prefer a hybrid approach, scheduling some tasks to the minute and others to the hour. No matter what you decide is best for you, having some sort of visual representation of what you have to do each day can be immensely helpful. My approach is use outlook I have the working day and week planned out a week in advance.
Schedule your most difficult tasks
Once you know what you have to do, it’s time to figure out the best way to go about doing it. Your key strategy goals should be planned ahead of time. Tracey describes that 20% of your tasks will account for 80% of your results. So you need to ensure these are properly planned.
I recently wrote an article about time management and covered the zone matrix. It is important to understand each day what are your must do tasks, and for you to ensure they get done. Consider is this thing I am about to work on going to have a positive impact on my long-term goals, will it develop the strategic relationship with my customer, prospect or add real value to the business, or is just a nice thing to do, and are you about to do it because it is easy, and there are no consequences for completing or not completing it. By thinking this way and focusing in on the most urgent and important actions, you’ll generate less stress and there will be less pressure for yourself.
Focus on one task at a time
It might sound obvious, however we all too often get distracted. Remember if you are working on your frog there is nothing more important you can be doing in that moment, so make the time count, work on it until it is fully completed!
Larger goals can feel overwhelming, so break them down into smaller sub tasks, plan a path for how to get there. Focus on one at a time and even the most complicated, most challenging tasks can be achieved.
Consider your energy levels. To be on your most productive is to as Tracey stated “guard and nurture your energy levels.” Working too-long hours, eating unhealthy foods, not getting enough sleep, forgoing exercise are all ways we deplete your reserves, and as a result, productivity suffers.
Identify the things that are holding you back and utilise your strengths
Once you have planned your goals, ask yourself why have I not achieved these things up to now?
What are the constraints which have held you back and will do so again?
If you can identify the bottle necks both internally, and externally this will help you set the speed and direction for how you will get to your goal.
Use your strengths, understand and determine what it is you are good at and throw yourself into doing those things exceptionally well. We are all good at different skills, so centre yourself around yours, do what you love to do and get rewarded for doing it. Plan how these strengths will best aid your mission.
Find your motivation and be an optimist
Tracey talks about being an optimist is a great way to motivate yourself. He says “Be your own cheerleader. Look for the good in every situation. Focus on the solution rather than the problem. Always be optimistic and constructive.”. Look to control your thoughts, things will not always go to plan so don’t allow negativity derail what you want to achieve.
Finding your motivation is so vital, and there are many others who have discussed the value of why your personal drive is so important in dealing with the challenging things business and life will throw at you. Tony Robbins and How To FIND YOUR WHY is a recommendation. Your motivation drives you to achieve the things you want to get out of life, and it is the key to finding purpose and meaning in what you do. This will be the fuel to overcome obstacles like eating frogs, even when at times you will not want to. You must decide what’s truly right for you to enable you to have the life you want.
By now you should have eaten that frog!
If you’ve followed all of these strategies, you’ll have successfully eaten that frog and you’ll have done it when you wanted to. If you want to achieve your goals and get things done, you need to get into a productive routine. This means blocking out time in your calendar for rest and relaxation, socialising, planning your day, and staying focused on your ambitions.