The eat-the-frog technique is a methodology that was created by Brian Tracy. He’s a Canadian businessman and writer who’s dedicated himself to studying the variables that influence job performance. The objective of the technique is to help you establish priorities, thus increasing your productivity in a simple way.
Tracy was inspired by a Mark Twain phrase which states: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This suggests facing complex and unwanted tasks first, even if they’re not urgent. It helps the rest of your work to flow.
However, it’s often not so easy to identify your most challenging tasks. For instance, you might make mistakes when planning them and identifying each one’s level of difficulty. In fact, you sometimes have to do a little exploration to discover which activities you should eliminate, before continuing with the rest. This is what the eat-the-frog technique is all about.
“Focus on being productive instead of being busy.”
The eat-the-frog technique
The eat-the-frog technique is a prioritization and productivity methodology. It’s based on the premise that the most complex tasks should be carried out first thing in the day, at the beginning of the week, or at the beginning of the month. In other words, they must be a priority. By carrying them out, you gain a good amount of positive momentum that makes everything flow faster.
The main contributions of the eat-the-frog technique are as follows:
- It increases your intrinsic motivation. The fact of performing a difficult task and completing it increases your willingness to perform your other easier activities.
- It takes advantage of your most productive moments. The beginning of the day and week are your moments of maximum performance as your brain is rested.
- It promotes concentration. It seeks that you dedicate all of your five senses to the most complex activity. By doing this, you’re more efficient and achieve better results. That’s because you’re using in-depth concentration.
Identifying complex tasks
The eat-the-frog technique is based on the identification of the most complex tasks. But, how do you identify them? The methodology suggests that complex tasks have the following identifying factors:
- They have a direct impact on other team members.
- They take between one and four hours. If they require more time, you should subdivide them into blocks that don’t exceed this period.
- They cause resistance. As a rule, they generate a desire in you to postpone them. This is usually because they’re particularly demanding.
- They have long-term effects. They’re activities that don’t usually have a beginning and end but instead generate effects over several weeks or months.
How to put the eat-the-frog technique into practice
The first step is to list your pending tasks. If these are really large, you should divide them into subtasks and then identify which are the most complex. The eat-the-frog technique recommends not performing more than one task with a high level of complexity in one day.
The most important thing is to carry out the task first thing in the day. Moreover, it’s advisable to reserve a few minutes to prepare yourself for about 15 or 20 minutes. However, make sure you don’t have any distractions during this period.
Experts in the eat-the-frog technique advise against planning such complex tasks too far in advance. They suggest it’s preferable to schedule them at the end of the previous day. Consequently, the idea of carrying out the activity is fresh in your mind. In addition, this prevents the task, if it’s important, from being too invasive or contaminating your cognitive processes.
The technique becomes more effective if you put it into operation each day. Then, it eventually becomes a habit. In terms of productivity, you’ll see the results pretty soon, basically because it stops you from procrastinating. It’s a really simple technique. Give it a try.
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