Eat That Frog! — 21 Golden Rules for Personal Success

January 25, 2024 Business and Management, Personal Branding 1 comment

Food photo created by lifeforstock –

Wish to do more each day and achieve greater personal success and productivity? Keen to banish the donkey of procrastination from your life?

Start by eating that frog!

Now before you start hunting for a hapless amphibian (frog legs are a popular treat here in Asia, by the way), note that this saying reflect the importance of doing the most important (and ugliest) thing first. Quoting from Mark Twain:

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” — Mark Twain

In his self-help book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, bestselling author Brian Tracy describes eating a frog as “a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task—but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.”

Divided into 21 short chapters, it provides a really useful guide to achieving greater personal effectiveness, peak performance, and better time management.

Let us dive into each of these chapters, to unearth the lessons it contains for us.

#1 Set The Table

First, think on paper and get your goals written down. Review them daily and take action on the most important tasks you need to do.

Set clear deadlines and timelines for each of these goals.

#2 Plan Every Day in Advance

Work out a list of tasks to be done each day. A good way to do so is to do it the night before.

There are several lists that you should work on:

  • Master List: This should include everything you can think of that you want to achieve in the future
  • Monthly List: Things that needs to be accomplished at the end of each month
  • Weekly List: What needs to be done for the week ahead
  • Daily List: What needs to be done for each day

Every one of these lists should reinforce each other. And as you complete each day, each week, and each month, you should then tick them off.

#3 Apply Pareto’s 80/20 Rule to Everything

Yes, I’ve written about the 80/20 rule before. In this case, it simply states that 80 percent of your results will come form 20 percent of your activities.

Ask yourself if your task is in the top 20 percent or bottom 80 percent. If it is in the latter, deprioritize or even eliminate them.

Focus on swallowing the big and important tasks first — yes, swallow that frog first thing in the morning!

#4 Think Long-Term Consequences

Focusing on your long-term outcomes helps you to improve your short-term decision making.

Do not just start on an activity, but consider what the consequences of doing or not doing that task is.

Practice The Law of Forced Efficiency, which goes like this:

“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”

Oh yes, do also consider the power of delayed gratification.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:

  1. What are my highest value activities?
  2. What can I and only I do that if done well can make a real difference?
  3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
  4. What is my biggest frog right at this very moment?

#5 Practice Creative Procrastination

Heard of the word posteriority? While a priority is something that you do more of (and sooner), a posteriority is something that you do less of and later, if at all.

The trick in developing your personal effectiveness is to say “NO!” to anything that does not add value to your life.

Procrastinate on these activities, and focus instead on the activities that add value to your life, your work, your relationships, and your health.

#6 Use the ABCDE Method All The Time

When you come up with your list of things to do, consider placing an A, B, C, D, or E next to each item BEFORE you begin the first task:

  • A items: These are very important, and will have serious positive or negative consequences if you do it or fail to do it.
  • B items: These are tasks that you should do, with moderate significance. You should only do this after you have completed your A tasks.
  • C items: These are nice to do, but have little to no consequences if you do or skip them.
  • D items: These are things that you should delegate to someone else.
  • E items: These are things that you should eliminate altogether, as they are immaterial.

#7 Focus on Your Key Result Areas

Ask yourself this question:

“What is one skill, if I developed and did in an excellent fashion, that would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”

Concentrate your energy on mastering this skill.

#8 Apply The Rule of Three

What are the three tasks that you can do which brings the great value and contribution?

This can be any endeavour — both at work, and in your life.

#9 Prepare Thoroughly Prior to Starting

Make sure you have everything ready before you begin.

Sharpen your pencils. Read the background material. Polish your slides. Refine your speech.

Don’t go into any endeavour half-prepared!

“Get 80 percent right and then correct it later.” — Brian Tracy

#10 Take it One Oil Barrel at a Time

Cross each milestone as you see it, and then look out for the next one. Set intermediate steps, and climb each rung of the ladder as you encounter it.

#11 Upgrade Your Key Skills

Always be learning in any occasion and any place or time.

Read a blog (Cooler Insights is certainly a good place to start!), listen to podcasts or audiobooks, and read!

#12 Leverage Your Special Talents

Identify your areas of strength and focus on developing them.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What am I really good at? What do I enjoy the most about what I do at work?
  • What has been most responsible for my success in the past?
  • If I could do any job at all — assuming that I’m retired, or money is no longer important — what job would it be?

#13 Identify and Eliminate Your Key Constraints

Are there any areas of weaknesses holding you back?

This could be a lack in a certain department, or individuals whom you work with, or even your own personal weaknesses.

Make it a goal to remove this constraint.

#14 Apply the Right Pressure to Yourself

Don’t wait for your boss or customer or parent to nag or remind you!

Be a self-starter! Get into the habit of turning the wheel and putting the pressure on yourself.

Work as though you only have one day — like the day before doing on a long vacation — to get your most important sh*t done!

#15 Maximise Your Personal Powers

Make sure that you get enough rest. Improve your health through the right diet, right amount of sleep, and right amount of time to unwind.

Take a full day off each week, where you do not check emails, read any work related matter, or do anything work related that is taxing.


#16 Motivate Yourself into Action

Embrace optimism. Being optimistic may be the most important quality for personal and professional success.

Practice being positive by doing the following:

  • See the glass as being half-full and not half-empty
  • Find the moral and lesson in every failure and setback
  • Resolve to solve any problem that comes your way
  • Think and continually talk about your goals

#17 Beware of Technological Time Sinks

Oh my word, I should know this! After all, I’ve also written about the value of digital minimalism.

The advice here is to refrain from allowing any form of technology from overwhelming us.

Resist the urge to turn on your smartphones first thing in the morning — or the last thing at night (I’m guilty here!).

Spend time every week (perhaps on a weekend) to digitally detox. Treat technology as a servant and not a master.

(You can learn more about digital addiction and cyber-wellness here and here.)

#18 Slice and Dice the Task

How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time!

There are two techniques to consider here:

  1. Salami Slicing: Resolve to do just one slice of the job for each time, like eating a roll of salami a slice at a time.
  2. Swiss Cheese: Resolve to punch a hole in your task, like in a block of Swiss cheese. Work on it continuously until the “cheese” is gone, but do it in small chunks.

#19 Create Large Chunks of Time

Set aside big chunks of time — like 30 minutes to an hour or even 90 minutes — to handle high-value important tasks.

This can be anything from exercising (I block out 60 minutes or longer on most mornings to lift weights, do calisthenics and run), to working on an important presentation, to phoning your clients.

Treat this time as sacred, and don’t let anything or anybody touch it!

#20 Develop a Sense of Urgency

Work with such fervor and focus on your task that you enter this amazing state called “flow”.

This state of flow happens when you develop a sense of urgency, giving you a regular bias for action.

Consider the Momentum Principle of Success which goes like this:

“Anything worth doing takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome inertia and get started. However, it takes far less energy to keep going.”

Adopt the mantra “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!”

#21 Single Handle Every Task — Monotasking Trumps Multitasking

Yes, the most important achievements of humankind are preceded by long periods of hard, concentrated work until the job is done.

Hence, your ability to choose your most important task, start it, and then fervently and single-mindedly do it until its completed leads to high levels of performance and personal productivity.

Once you start something, keep at it — without diversion or distraction — until the job is 100 percent complete.

Use the mantra “Back to work! Back to work! Back to work!” to keep going when you feel tempted or distracted.

(Read more about the perils of multitasking here.)


Eat That Frog! is an energising read (or listen in my case as an audiobook) which yields invaluable lessons in personal effectiveness.

I love all 21 principles, as well as the metaphor of focusing on getting the nasty but necessary large task out of the way first.

Hope that this summary has been useful in helping you to defeat procrastination, better manage time, and eat your own frogs!

Eat That Frog! Infographic Summary

Do check out this brilliant infographic by The Exceptional Skills highlighting the salient lessons from the book.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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