Avoiding procrastination: about eating frogs and ‘frogology’

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!

17 thoughts on “Avoiding procrastination: about eating frogs and ‘frogology’”

  1. I’m going to take your recommendation and read this book! I never thought I’d be telling friends (like the one that just called) that I’m excited about learning more about frog eating. You should be in sales….

    1. AverageJoe: 😀 But I am in sales! It is just that I sell ideas – all the time. May move to dreams soon 😀 . Thanks for your kind words as well.

  2. I love it. I used to feel this way when it was my shift taking care of my 2 kids. I just did it and tried hard not to sit there and look at what was to come. Now I just attack it with fun. Lately I find it trickling into my business life more and more. I don’t eat frog but if I am going to I won’t just sit and look at it. 🙂

    1. @Brent: I know the theory. Not possible in practice – there are always things that you need to do and you dislike or fear. You can outsource the scheduling of the frog eating but after that they are all yours 😀 .

  3. What works for me is a simple thing called a list. I just like crossing things off that list because I have this great feeling of accomplishment when I do that.

    Frogs probably taste like chicken, but I would rather eat chicken.

    1. @Krant: In this book ‘THE LIST’ is a very important tool. I also love lists – I make them all the time and even if something crops up I will add it to the list so I can cross it out (J personality, you see). Before I read Eat That Frog and applied the principles in it, many very important tasks on my list kept being rolled onto the next day. Now, it all gets done – one frog at the time and the ugliest one first.

  4. That Brent-out source the frog eating. Fellow after my own heart. This book sounds like just the sort I enjoy. Makes me look at what I’m doing and be more purposeful. Thanks, I’ll have to look for this one.

  5. One extra thing is to time your frog eating – you’ll be amazed at how little time it takes to eat one.

    It is a useful book and a useful phrase to remember.

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