A frog sits in muddy water with a frown at the expression
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Pareto Principle

Your time and resources are limited. Efficiency means learning to prioritize. The Pareto principle (also called the 80-20 rule) can help you identify the best way to use your time for maximum results.

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If you’ve ever googled “productivity tips” or “time management techniques,” you’ve probably come across the suggestion to “eat the frog.”

And, assuming you’d never heard of this technique before, you probably did a doubletake.

Eating the frog is a legitimate method for overcoming procrastination in the face of important tasks. (To be clear, it’s a metaphor. Literally eating a live frog will do nothing for your productivity.)

In essence, “eat the frog” just means “get the worst part over with.” But in practice, eating the frog is a nuanced approach to better time management, self-awareness, and productivity.

The Origin and Evolution of Eating the Frog, from Mark Twain to Bryan Tracy

Where did this crazy metaphor come from? A Mark Twain quote, actually.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog,” said Twain, “it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Hard to argue with that logic.

Over a hundred years after Twain passed, motivational speaker Brian Tracy repurposed and popularized the metaphorical frog in his book Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. It was Tracy who expanded on the simple concept for enhanced productivity and greater satisfaction in life and work.

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

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JUST STOP IT! Good Time Management Means Deciding What NOT to Do

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A man covered in post-its shouts at a phone at his desk, struggling with time management

How to Eat the Frog (Metaphorically)

The core technique is simple: When you sit down to work in the morning, get the biggest, scariest, most important task of the day done first.

Over time, as that becomes a habit, you’ll train yourself for a fearless extra push early on in the day. You’ll also learn to create large chunks of time for different kinds of tasks—the morning “frogs,” as well as other things on your plate, ranked by importance.

Your morning frog might not be something that takes a lot of time, but it is likely something you’re dreading. Maybe it’s a bad news email you need to send or a quarterly financial report to complete. The sense of what makes for a “difficult task” varies from person to person. But the end result is the same: Without the stress of those big tasks weighing you down, the rest of the day will go down easier (so to speak).

3 Ds to Eat That Frog the Bryan Tracy Way

Eat That Frog breaks down the simple concept of “getting it over with” into twenty-one techniques for a proactive approach to time management and prioritization. But they all rely on a three-pronged frame of mind for the best results: decision, discipline, and determination.

Pareto Principle

Your time and resources are limited. Efficiency means learning to prioritize. The Pareto principle (also called the 80-20 rule) can help you identify the best way to use your time for maximum results.

Decision

When you make your decision to eat the frog, you can theoretically start with any big task. But Tracy urges you to single out the most urgent, important one first. Lean into time management as a meaningful training exercise.

Discipline

As you work to gobble up your biggest tasks of the day, commit with discipline. In fact, Tracy advises starting the day before. Planning your day in advance will enable you to dive right in with no excuses.

Determination

The final ingredient is determination. Apply a take-charge attitude to everything from planning to pressure, methodology to motivation. As Tracy puts it, “The ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, to do it well and to finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status, and happiness in life.”

The Benefits of Eating the Frog

If you struggle with getting started in the morning, eating the frog might be the best way to train those fears away and regain mindful control of your daily work.

But the benefits of this time-management technique don’t end with clearing your schedule. There are lots of other great benefits to getting the frog off your plate.

  • Reduce stress by getting the tough stuff over with
  • Improve your scheduling and time management
  • Stop overthinking and train yourself for action
  • Set yourself up for long-term success as a go-getter

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