Y’all know I have a penchant for productivity books. Not so much for the implementation of the ideas contained therein, but I’m all about reading them. However, if there is one productivity book that I would recommend you read and that I hope to put into practice, it’s Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Tracy’s approach to organization and productivity is to define your most important tasks and focus your best energies on those. Those high impact tasks are often the most difficult, and it’s easier to piddle around doing this and that than to buckle down and do the hard work that will reap the most benefits in your life. Tracy’s solution is to, metaphorically speaking, eat the frog first. You know, because if you eat a frog first thing in the morning, pretty much everything else you do that day will be cake. 🙂
Tracy says that the ability to figure out what your most important tasks are, and then to be single-minded in pursuit of them, is what makes a person successful. He has, I think, a unique twist on goal setting that helps you focus on which goals are really the most important, the most likely to have the biggest payoff in your life.
I appreciate Tracy’s willingness to admit that you can’t get “it all” done. In fact, he says, “You will never be caught up. Get that thought out of your mind. All you can hope for is to be on top of your most important tasks.” Sounds kind of bleak, right? But if you think about it, that’s really true. Instead of dashing around trying to skim the surface of scads of things, ask yourself “What can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a real difference?” Tracy suggests that to set priorities you have to set “posteriorities” as well. That is, you have to define low value activities that take up your time and keep you from achieving your real goals. To do this, Tracy suggests practicing zero-based thinking, which he describes as asking yourself “If I was not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I get into it again today?”
I also found it personally convicting and also rather hopeful that Tracy emphasized taking responsibility for achieving your goals. He points out that 80% of the constraints holding you back from achieving your goals are internal (I’m not sure where he got that statistic, but it sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) and says “Accept complete responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you. Refuse to criticize or blame others for anything. Resolve to make progress rather than excuses. Keep your thoughts and your energy focused forward, on the things you can do to improve your life, and let the rest go.”
And, because so many things come back around to Charlotte Mason, here is a great quote to end on:
Control your thoughts. Remember, you become what you think about most of the time. Be sure that you are thinking and talking about the things you want to achieve rather than the things you don’t want.
I took pages and pages of notes from this book and don’t have time or space to get into all that I learned and need to think more deeply about as a result of reading Eat That Frog. Suffice it to say, I would highly and emphatically recommend it to you and I plan to add it to my top books from 2011.
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