Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: Eat That Frog

April 2020

"Eat That Frog: 21 Ways To Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time" by Brian Tracy

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library.  

Eat That Frog boils down to one significant lifestyle change: doing your hardest, most important task FIRST, even if that task happens to be "eating a frog". Tracy advises readers to do the most important task first because it's probably the one you're dreading and the item you're most likley to procrastinate. Eating your ugliest frog first means that everything else you have to do during the day seems far less intimidating compared to what you've already accomplished. If you're seeking some instructive and motivating words on why you should do your most important task first and how it can change your life, Eat That Frog is the title for you. 

Eat That Frog is a personal recommendation as well as a suggestion from multiple Podcast guests including Penny Hawkins, Karen Geiger, and Katherine Lambert.

  1. Figure out what your "frog" is. Your frog task (you could have many) is probably the one that is not only the most challenging or difficult, but perhaps the least urgently demanded. Sometimes the tasks we busy ourselves with are the ones that provide us with short term gratification and immediate results, while the more important, long term goals end up falling to the back of your mind. Your "frog" is probably the kind of task you feel uncomfortable facing, and you're probably planning to procrastinate. It probably isn't a short term satisfier and doesn't feel immediately demanding, like much smaller distracting tasks.
  2. Break down your frog(s) into doable tasks. Figuring out what your frog is means first identifying all of your tasks and writing out clear, specific goals and all the tasks it takes to do them. (Like this method? Check out "Getting Things Done" by David Allen.) Once you've listed everything out, prioritize them and do them in order. Break down tasks into bite sized chunks, either time based or task based.
  3. Maximize  your effort for the things that are most important to you. Give your frog undivided attention and dedicate as much time as necessary. "Flow state" can be achieved  when your undivided attention gives your brain the chance to fully focus. You should work on your most important/difficult/ugly frog by giving it consistent attention for a significant period of time with no distractions to maximize your time with it. (Want to learn more? Read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's FLOW or Cal Newport's Deep Work for more on cultivating this productive mind state.)

Though the ongoing frog metaphor (and the amphibian's imposing image on the cover of the book) can seem a little off-putting at first glance, the message is an important one: figuring out what's important to you and making it happen. By identifying your frog and ranking your to-do list, you'll come to realize not only what the nonessential tasks on which you've been wasting time, but also what your most important, long-term tasks should be.


Brian Tracy is a Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author. He is the author of over seventy books that have been translated into dozens of languages. His most popular books are Earn What You're Really Worth, Eat That Frog!, and The Psychology of Achievement.