Eat That Frog! Review

To date, I’ve reviewed 3 books for Thomas Nelson, and I’ve really come to enjoy reviewing books. I’ve always enjoyed reading them, so trying to communicate about them is a skill that I believe I would do well to cultivate. I recently came across a chance to read “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” by Brian Tracy. That’s quite a promise. A while back I spent a lot of time reading productivity blogs, and I can remember Eat That Frog! being specifically mentioned on many of them. This book is copyrighted in 2007. It seems like I heard about it before that, but I’m at a phase in life where time has lost all meaning.

I’m assuming that I am not the only person in the marketplace who suffers from problems with procrastination and not “being all that I can be.” I base my assumption on the fact that books like this sell very well. As consumers, we spend a lot of money year after year on books and tapes and seminars on how to become more productive. To be honest, I’ve sort of soured on productivity books. Some are little more than motivational fluff designed more to pad the pockets of the author and publisher. Some provide systems that are so convoluted that following them is impractical for just about everybody. Others seem especially designed for only two kinds of people: salespeople and executives. The case studies and all the examples seem centered around those types of people, and some of us just don’t have the imagination to be able to apply the studies to our jobs as engineers, or teachers, or stay-at-home parents, or whatever we happen to do that isn’t in sales or executive level positions.

I was surprised to find that Eat The Frog! did not fit into any of my negative perceptions of this genre. I’ve read quite a few books about productivity and I have blogged about the subject, so to be honest, I didn’t come across anything new in Eat That Frog! However, as I told a friend this morning in regards to another book on another subject, sometimes the way the information is organized and presented can have a huge impact on how it is received. I found that Brian Tracy was able to organize and present his information in a very practical and informative manner. Though I didn’t hear anything new, I took extensive notes and look forward to applying some of these “21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time”.

Some productivity authors seem to have done little more in life than, well, write productivity books and conduct motivational seminars. They all seem to make a healthy living at it. Brian Tracy was a high school drop out who worked for several years as a laborer before landing in sales and studying how the best salespeople conducted business. His bio said that he excelled, got a degree, and currently is a successful author and has a coaching business.

This book is written from a very practical standpoint. In the Introduction, Brian Tracy specifically mentions this. All 21 of the steps in this book can and should be followed by anybody who wants to be productive and effective, and wants more in life than to watch his lottery ticket not win week after week while whining that his life will never be better until he wins the lottery. I’ve written before on my opinions on the lottery, so I won’t continue here. No, Brian Tracy says nothing about the lottery in this book. The book gets its name from a Mark Twain quote about eating a frog first thing in the morning will leave you with the satisfaction that it is the worst thing you will do all day. The book is designed to show you how to accomplish the biggest, most valuable tasks in your life (or eat your frogs) while creatively procrastinating on the less important. The book deals with setting goals, prioritizing, getting enough rest and relaxation, unplugging or being the master rather than the servant of your technology, and concentrating on your key areas.

I was left with only two comments about the book where I either had unanswered questions or wasn’t entirely sure how best to take the information presented. Chapter 3 deals with the so called “80/20 Rule”, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle. The rule can be stated in this context as “80 percent of your time should be spent on 20 percent of your tasks.” I am sometimes bugged by the Pareto Principle as some people seem to use it as a universal constant. That leaves me wondering if it’s possible to be used in that way. However, as a general rule, I guess it can be used. I’ve heard the Pareto principle applied in areas from economics (it is named after an Italian economist) to software design, i.e.. 80 percent of the people use 20 percent of the features. Obviously, in software design, even if that were a hard and fast rule, the 80 percent of the people don’t all use the same 20 percent of the features. The concept is a smart one though. We all have tons and tons of things that we need to or would like to do, but we can’t do them all, therefore we should concentrate our efforts on those things that will have the highest value.

My other comment is on Chapter 16, Motivate Yourself Into Action. This chapter deals with optimism. I’ve never been known to be the biggest optimist. I try not to live my life looking at the bad. I’ve had conversations with other people that go like this “This is going to suck.” “Dude, you’re such a pessimist. Think positive.” “OK, I’m positive that this is going to suck.” I have matured a bit since those days. Chapter 16 lays out 4 special behaviors that optimists follow, such as looking for the good in every situation, seeking the valuable lesson in every setback or difficulty, look for the solution to every problem, and think and talk continually about their goals. I guess my mind has some issues, because I can see the point to looking for solutions to problems, looking for the valuable lesson, etc, but again, this is not universally applicable and I honestly have never seen an answer to the point I’m about to bring up. Where is the positive in situations like these:

3 AM. You’re up late with a stomach bug that can’t decide which end to use at which time. You can’t sleep, you’re too tired to read, and there’s nothing on TV except those stupid “Make millions an hour in Real Estate with no money down, no experience, and no actual work” infomercials. Where is the lesson, opportunity, or good in that?

You’re late for work, traffic is backed up, and you’re realizing that your last cup of coffee is getting to be a real problem. I can see that the lesson to wait until you’re at work before making coffee and of course to get up and leave on time, but other than that, where is the good and what is the solution?

In any case, maybe I should just accept that sometimes there is no lesson, no good, and no opportunity and I should shut up about those situations, which hopefully will be rare.

I would recommend Eat That Frog! to anybody looking to learn to manage time better and accomplish valuable goals. Eat That Frog! clocks in at 128 pages and is a quick read power packed with well organized and highly useful tips and rules for being more productive and having a greater impact in your own life, your organization, and to those around you.

If you enjoyed this review, read some of my other book reviews here.

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