No, not really eating deep fat fried frog legs! But just in case you are interested, I have done this one. The French eat frogs not because they are French but because France is a traditional agrarian society where people had to eat anything when times were tough. So is Bulgaria.
Today, however, is Thursday so eating frogs is not about my dietary exploits but about Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastination and Get More Done in Less Time; which happens to be one of the books that hit me like a thunderbolt and made me change what I do and how I do it! Because just like anybody else I used to do the things I like doing, postpone the things I didn’t like doing and completely ignore the things I feared doing. There are different words for this; procrastination and waste of time, talent and opportunities are only some of them. Couple of years ago I decided that avoiding procrastination will become my mission. This is when I found Eat That Frog.
Like most really insightful, life changing books the idea behind it is very simple: if we do what we really don’t want to do first thing in the morning we will get much further in all things. Of course, this is not about masochism and the things we dislike or fear ought to be important and have potentially large impact on desirable areas and directions of our lives. As Mark Twain said:
“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
‘What if there are more frogs to eat?’ – you may think.
Well, if there are more frogs, there are two rules of frog eating, or ‘frogology’ and they state:
If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.
Frogology, or the art and science of eating frogs and avoiding procrastination, is about:
- Working out where do we want to be in different areas of our lives.
- Working out what are the actions that will get us there in the shortest time and with the optimal effort. Here it may help to remember that Pareto got this one right as well; twenty percent of our effort accounts for eighty percent of our achievement.
- Deciding which of our talents will be useful (yes, I do believe that everyone has talents) and what skills and competencies we need to develop.
- Chunking the actions down into doable segments; this way they may still be frogs but at least they are smaller and less ugly; not to mention scary.
- Deciding which three actions we approach first.
- Going for it with all we have for as long as we can last. And seriously, we all can last much longer than we think.
Of course, there is a lot of the usual stuff about ‘key result areas’, preparation, key constraints etc. But this is minor details compared to the six key messages above that you can work around if you really want to stop procrastinating and make your life what you really want it to be.
And I will leave you with my two favourite practical suggestions from this book;
1) Plan your day the evening before. This way you prepare for the frogs and can switch off for the evening.
2) Become a master of creative procrastination. Procrastination is not such a bad idea but we have to learn to procrastinate with the right stuff – usually tasks that are low value and have negligible return in terms of where you want to be.
There is more; much more. But if you really want to know about it go and read the book; you are not going to regret it. When you feel that you are slipping back into a life of avoidance, fear and boredom read it again. I do!