Eat That Frog! Book Review

Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog Book ReviewI picked up Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy at the recommendation of my friend and former co-worker Kraig Mathias. I was asking him for tips on management and whether he had read any good books on the subject, and he recommended Eat that Frog! enthusiastically. He advised that if you’re in management, it’s essential that you’re spending your time on the most important things. Since I had been having difficulty being a hands on manager (as I learned from It’s Okay to be the Boss!) while also getting all my work done, I took it for a spin.

On a scale of skip it, library it, and own it, I firmly believe that Eat That Frog! is worth owning.

Key points of the book:

++ Focuses on taking action
++ Focuses on practical and pragmatic ways to increase productivity
– Sometimes it I feels like the author is trying to hack my brain
?? The tone has a lot of enthusiasm, which is both contagious and saccharine at time

++ Focuses on taking action

One of the biggest selling points for the book is how quick a read it is. The chapters are 4-6 pages, each focusing on the heart of a productivity problem and immediately getting into a concrete way you can take action to address that issue. Most are simple systems that are easily incorporated into your routine, while others are easy to learn and execute but require a bit more change.

For example, one of the biggest takeaways from the book is a simple change to your daily routine: work on the most important thing first every day. This is where the title comes from – starting big, important projects often feels like eating a frog – not very appealing. By sitting down and diving into it first thing you’re guaranteed to have a productive day because you will accomplish something important. I can tell you the first week after reading the book I split my days between diving into the hard work and going back to my old ways of spending all morning in my inbox. I felt notably accomplished on the days where I knocked out 1-3 hard projects and surprisingly ineffective the days I checked off a huge list of minor tasks.

Another big takeaway is to break things down into manageable chunks and take it one step at a time. This is key to juggling multiple big projects. Many projects get set aside because they take a day or two of head down work to get accomplished. It’s rare to be able to find a chunk of time that big, so we often set them aside until we finally get motivated by anxiety to clear our calendar and get behind on the daily to-dos. By breaking things up into manageable chunks we can successfully make progress on multiple large projects simultaneously by simply focusing accomplishing on today’s step.

++ Focuses on practical and pragmatic ways to increase productivity

Tracy also focuses on practical systems that you can easily pick up. Things like planning out your day and your to-dos the night before will make it that much easier to focus and execute first thing the following day.

Other systems are easy to learn, but require a bit more discipline to implement. In chapter 5 of Eat That Frog!, Tracy introduces the ABCDE method. In this system, you lay out all the things you need to work on, then prioritize them. The A’s are things that must be done, and the ones you do first and absolutely must finish today. B’s are nice to do, but not critical. D’s are delegate, and E is eliminate altogether. Though it feels strange to my perfectionist self, sometimes the best way to check something off your to-do list is to erase it. I have found the ABCDE method has made me more productive on days I completely followed the order of priorities, but I still find it challenging to pass on tasks I’m in the mood to do in favor of something that sounds unappealing at the time.

— I feel like the author is trying to hack my brain

The book works in a lot of motivational phrases that feel to me to be reminiscent of slimy self-help gurus. “This technique is so simple and effective that it can, all by itself, make you one of the most efficient and effective people in your field.” Statements like this are peppered throughout the book. While it’s certainly not the main focus, I felt it was worth mentioning.

While reading the book I thought a potential justification was that if these statements got readers to take action, then Tracy is more successful meeting the goal of his book – to make others more successful. I kind of wrote it off as the typical marketers hate being marketed to. Plus, I spent one summer reading up on persuasion, so I tend to be pretty sensitive to that in the same way I am being marketed to.

The let down was at the very end of the book, the next page was an advertisement for Tracy’s “Make Your First Million Seminar,” which kinda confirmed my initial the get rich quick self help guru read on the situation.

?? The tone has a lot of enthusiasm, which is both contagious and saccharine

Throughout the book, the author takes the tone of a high school sports coach. He’s continually trying to be motivating and inspiring. He encourages you to be your own coach, too – put pressure on yourself. In chapter 20 he tells you to chant “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” and “Back to work! Back to work! Back to work!” to yourself. That sounds a bit cheesy, and I can tell you it definitely feels a bit cheesy the first couple times you try it.

That said, having an overly enthusiastic internal voice does make you more productive. Few people talk like an infomerical salesperson or the president giving a speech in their day to day lives, but there’s no denying that salespeople and presidents move people. The human brain responds to these tones and messages, so it’s to your benefit to hack your own brain and talk to yourself that way. Besides, it gets a little less awkward over time, and no one else has to hear…

The Bottom Line: Despite Some Drawbacks, Absolutely Essential to Read

Although there are some drawbacks to the book, mentioned above, I want to be clear that is a critical book for anyone to read. If you don’t have the confidence and self esteem that comes with knowing you’re a proven highly-productive person, I encourage you to read the book. It feels great to get a lot done, and as Tracy mentions in the book, there is a great deal of momentum and joy that comes with continually getting highly important work done.

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