The Best 3 Ideas from “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy

Posted 07/23/14 by James and filed under:

My Picks for the Best 3 ideas from “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy wrote a great little book called Eat That Frog.  It’s only 129 pages, and I’ve read or flipped through it many times over the years.  In the book, he gives 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time.  Eat that Frog GTD

I flipped through the book again recently and found my top three favorite ideas from the book.

Idea 1 – Set the Table

In this book, setting the table refers to creating goals.  Brian believes that one of the main reasons for procrastination is not having a clear reason for why you are doing your tasks.  Having clear goals laid out will help you achieve more because your actions are closely tied to goals.  I’ve talked about goal setting using GTDNext in a previous post.

Brian gives these tips for goal setting:


  • Decide exactly what you want
  • Set a deadline for your goal
  • Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal
  • Organize your list into a plan
  • Take action on your plan immediately
  • Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your goal

As Brian says, “Goals are the fuel for the furnace.”  I couldn’t agree more, and for that reason, it’s one of my three favorite ideas from his book.

Idea 2 – Plan every day in advance

Brian advocates for having a master list, a monthly list, and a daily list.  While I don’t subscribe to this system, it is better than not having a strategy at all.  The important point from this chapter is that it is important to start your day with a plan.  For me, that involves taking some time (usually the night before) to do a mini review of my system.

This takes just 5 to 10 minutes to clear out any completed actions.  I empty my inbox,  check upcoming due dates, and review my project and next action list.  I like to mark any items that need to be done the next day as focus items, so they show up on my focus list.

I believe this idea is fundamental to sustained success in life and business.  For that reason, it’s number two on my list of the best ideas from his book.

Idea 17 – Do the most difficult task first.

This idea is where the book gets its name. If today you have to eat a frog, you might as well get it done as quickly as you can and be on with your day.  You don’t want to dread eating that frog all day long!

Brian is a big believer and makes a great case that you should do your most difficult task first each day.  Many people refer to this as “Most Important Task First”, or “Most Unpleasant Task First.”  In fact, here is a lifehacker article on the subject.  The idea boils down to the fact that if you put your effort into doing that difficult task first thing, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, which will help set the tone for the day.  It will also help you feel less stressed, knowing you have the hardest part of your day done!

With this in mind, I’ve created a Tag in GTDNext called “Eat the Frog”, and I only apply the tag to one item a day.  I’m going to filter my task list by that tag each day and “eat the frog” for the next month.  I’ll let you know how I do!

That’s it!  The best three ideas from the 21 ideas in his book.  The rest aren’t bad, in fact, some of them are great!  They just didn’t make the cut.

The Other Ideas:

Even though the book is a bit old, you may want to give it a read. Below is a quick list of all of the ideas presented in the book.

All 21 of the Ideas:

  1. Set the Table
  2. Plan Every Day in Advance
  3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything
  4. Consider the Consequences
  5. Practice the ABCDE Method Continually
  6. Focus on Key Result Areas
  7. Obey the Law of Forced Efficiency
  8. Prepare Thoroughly Before You Begin
  9. Do Your Homework
  10. Leverage Your Special Talents
  11. Identify Your Key Constraints
  12. Take it One Oil Barrel at a Time
  13. Put the Pressure on Yourself
  14. Maximize Your Personal Powers
  15. Motivate Yourself into Action
  16. Practice Creative Procrastination
  17. Do the Most Difficult Task First
  18. Slice and Dice the Task
  19. Create Large Chunks of Time
  20. Develop a Sense of Urgency
  21. Single Handle Every Task

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