Geetanjali Mukherjee

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Review: Eat That Frog!

I am back after an unintended hiatus – my computer stopped working, and I got backlogged with work while I tried to figure it out, and dropped off my (ir)regular posting schedule. Now I am writing this on a loaner.

Today’s book review is on a book that although I loved, I also thought many times before recommending – because while I think it can be great for those who need a little nudge (ok a shove off the couch to get productive), it might be a little too ‘tough love’ for those who need to start small and easy. Thus, this book may not be for everyone, but I still think its message is important enough to share on this blog. 

General Comments:  The main premise of the book is that the best way to be productive and successful is to tackle the most difficult and important task that you have to get done, and make it a life philosophy to always tackle these tasks – frogs as Tracy calls them. Thus, the focus of the book is how to get these tasks done / eat these frogs.

3 Insights from the Book:

1.   Tackle the most important first - all of us are guilty of putting off something that is big and difficult because it is big and difficult. We wait till the last minute, spending our time handling email or doing other trivial things and avoiding writing the report, or calling the client, or whatever the most important task for the day is. Tracy’s main message is by handling the most important tasks (frogs) first, you get into the habit of always doing this, and as a result, become successful by dint of always ensuring your top priorities are taken care of. He suggests that you should make a list of your priorities, and don’t tackle less important tasks until the more important ones are taken care of. Important lesson, although not always easy to carry out.

2.   Focus on the highest value tasks – everyone has far more to do than they can find time for, so Tracy suggests that in order to keep on top of your work, spend your time and energy on the tasks that create the highest value for your employer, and represent the most important functions of your job. This may seem pretty obvious, but it is very easy to get caught up in the urgent and day-to-day onslaught, and lose track of less urgent aspects of the job, that done well, ultimately lead to promotions and career success.

3.   Break tasks down – while it is clear that completing the toughest tasks will give us the most bang for our work hours, the reason we procrastinate on them is because they are, well, tough. Tracy’s suggestion – every task can be broken down into smaller and smaller sections – and tackle one at a time. Each section you complete will give you increased momentum to tackle the next one. When nothing else works – give yourself time quotas (i.e. I will work for the next 5 minutes on this project). All progress is progress, and remember, its doubly effective because this is progress on your most important task. 

Recommend For: Anyone who finds themselves procrastinating on important tasks and projects, or who is stuck on a project and unable to move forward. Can also be very useful for those who seem to be spending a lot of time ‘working’ but are frustrated at not getting good enough results or moving forward sufficiently.

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