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on 22 June 2011
There are two books that are very frequently plugged on blogs by indie authors: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. Like a true consumer, I have run all the way to Amazon with my Visa Debit card in hand and handed over my hard earned cash for them both. I am presently reading the former, which is nothing short of excellent. Here I will comment on the latter.

Eat That Frog is a self-help book about getting more of the important things done and includes 21 steps to getting lazy lumps like myself off our lazy arses. Great, I thought, seeing as I am a master procrastinator I thought that this book would serve me well.

I have to admit here that I have never found a self-help book truly helpful. This is not because I am sceptical, quite the opposite is true in fact as I tend to approach such books with annoyingly naïve optimism. It was with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm that I started reading Brian Tracy's book and commenced my mission to quash my procrastination.

Cue disappointment...

The first thing to say is that this is not really a book to aid those with procrastination issues and I am quite unsure as to why so many people have championed it as such. Whilst it does indeed start off in that vein, it is clear that this has much more to do with time management and organisation than motivation.

The initial messages were positive. Eat That Frog! Get the ugliest and most daunting task off your to-do list first thing and then everything else is simple. Great, this is a positive approach to have and Brian Tracy is correct that the endorphins released by this will compel an individual on to tackle the remainder of their tasks. The book also cleverly points out that too many of us spend time concentrating on the less-important and easy to do tasks whilst ignoring the more pressing and salient matters. Yes, such things are counter-productive. I was also quite impressed by Tracy's ideas about prioritising tasks, writing lists and "Salami Slicing" of "Swiss Cheesing" large and daunting tasks into manageable segments. All very good advice indeed.

The majority of the book however, appears to me rather irrelevant with an array of obvious facts and standard clichés about telling yourself you can do things and trying to better yourself in each area of your field in order to get ahead. I did not find these helpful or motivational, I found them obvious and annoying. I appreciate that I may well be approaching this with a certain amount of tunnel vision. It is clear that the book is aimed at ambitious professionals so to look at it from the perspective of a writer hoping to get more writing done is not necessarily correct. I am sure that if I was in a career that required me to compete in a challenging environment on a daily basis then I may have taken more from this.

I could not help but feel that the bulk of the book was padding and very little substance. The 21 steps listed by Brian Tracey could've been printed on a 2 page pamphlet and been equally informative. The few pages devoted to each step seems rather excessive and involve a lot of repetition and waffle. Similarly, the rather thin book of 144 pages only includes around 100 pages of content. There is a large chunk at the back advertising the author's various other products and seminars.

I would not say that this is a bad book. The fact that so many people trumpet it around the internet as something of a bible as well as the fact that it averages 4.5 stars on Amazon from 45 ratings means that many must find it informative and useful. I would say however that it is not particularly informative and do not expect to suddenly stop procrastinating by reading it. Yes, you will pick up some helpful hints and tips but that will be the limit.

I don't wish to knock Brian Tracy, he is a professional motivator and helps individuals and businesses the world over to succeed. He is obviously an expert in his field and will not appreciate a jumped up nobody such as myself offering criticism of his words. In all honesty however, in relation to this book, similar information is available for free on the internet so you may be better off just asking your good old mate Mr Google for the same advice.
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on 12 June 2002
This is an easy read, and it contains a lot of sound advice - although none of the ideas is particularly new. As it is very list based, it will only appeal to people who like working with lists.
A 'frog' is defined as a task that is likely to make a major impact on your success, something important and possibly also substantial. It may also be a hard or 'ugly' task, which leads to a temptation to procrastinate. Tracy advocates 'eating' the ugliest frog first and avoiding the temptation to do easier pleasanter tasks.
Tracy leads the reader through the steps he believes you need to take to achieve greater effectiveness and success and to overcome procrastination. He starts with the importance of written goals - clarity about what you want to achieve. Setting yourself deadlines is an essential part of this process. Both these views are conventional time management wisdom, and they are very important. Tracy suggests that we need to develop an action orientation, for which goals are the basis. They are also the basis for task lists, with an ever-updated Master List being used as a foundation for monthly, weekly and daily action lists. These lists, in turn, are used as a basis for prioritising and planning - with further lists of activities for each project or task.
Interestingly, Tracy uses a straight line prioritising tool - from A (frog) to E (eliminate), and does not mention the quadrant method which has become more prevalent recently, and which is advocated as an important tool for prioritisation in Stephen R. Covey's 'First Things First'.
One of the messages I liked was the recognition - which is not always given in time management books - that most people are operating at full or more than full capacity, so there is a need to accept that you will never catch up with everything you want to do. This is why you need to learn to focus on the 'frogs' and key result areas and learn 'creative procrastination' with regard to most of the rest.
I also liked the emphasis on long-term planning as a framework within which to set goals and priorities. There is sound advice on continual self-improvement, too. Tracy advocates identifying your strengths and weakenesses within the context of your key result areas, so that you can leverage your strengths and work to build skills and abilities in the weaker areas.
If you work well with lists, the book provides sound, easy-to-follow steps which will undoubtedly help you to build your personal effectiveness.
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on 13 March 2005
This is not a time management book. Think of it more as a 'stop procrastinating and sort your life out' book. I was given this book by a colleague and, ironically, it sat on the back seat of my car for two weeks before I said to myself "Oh, that book - I must have a look at it."
In less than half an hour I had read the preface, the intro and each chapter's introductory paragraph and concluding 'Eat That Frog!' action point. And that was enough for me to get up and do something straight away. I then read the detail in an evening (each of the 21 ideas forms a chapter that is only 2-3 pages long).
Brian is refreshingly frank and truthful from page one: "There is never enough time to do everything you have to do. You are never 'going to get caught up'. You will never get on top of all your tasks. No matter how many personal productivity techniques you master, there will always be more to do than you can ever accomplish in the time you have available."
The book then presents some blindingly obvious but profound 'rules' for successful prioritisation, organisation and taking action. In fact, the core message is just that - do something!
Each of the 21 tips is a really practical, do-able idea, and Brian Tracy's writing style is sufficiently motivational to get me into action - doing things I already know I should be doing.
The gems contained in this book are so valuable that I think you'd get your money's worth if you only read the three-and-a-half page 'Putting It All Together' summary at the back. So do something: buy it!
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on 26 September 2005
Far and away the best and most helpful book i have read on time management. Very practical and easy to get started at and to keep up. Asks you to do no in depth investifations of your self and your behaviours. JUst gives you actions to do at the end of each short chapter. This book is responsible for making me much better oranised. More motivated and much more effective. A brilliant book.
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on 23 February 2006
A book about time management and avoiding task avoidance needs to be short, sharp and to the point. This succeeds in every way.
With short pick up and put down chapters, easy to remember rules and highly entertaining analogies this book threatens the frog population worldwide.
As a master of procrastination, I finaly got round to reading this and haven't looked back since.
Buy it...
Read it...
Get on with it...and eat that frog.
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on 8 May 2006
What a great book!

Laid out extremely well, with all the concepts explained very simply and well put together.

A quick read of this book will yield great benefits in saving you time and helping you prioritise.

A "must" for your business book collection.
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on 24 February 2007
My boyfriend bought this book and I pinched it because I had run out of reading material, and it had an interestingly daft title. I am so glad I did! I am really very busy, and every day my to-do list presents an impossibly long list of tasks - totally demoralising.

In what is about 2 hours (max) of reading, the author helps you define your most important goals in life, and gives you a system to align your daily tasks to help you achieve your main goals. You basically identify your most important tasks, and prioritise your time so you actually get them done. I started reading this book earlier this week, and by Friday I had a contract that is worth over £30k, that I know I wouldn't have secured so quickly I hadn't read this book.

Other reviews of this book have pointed out that its a simplification, and points out the obvious. This is true - he does simplify, and he does point out the obvious. However there is clearly a huge ammount of research behind this book. He has basically distilled the knowledge and developed it into a beautifully simple system that works - well, it works for me!
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on 3 January 2011
I kept meaning to read this book, but took ages to get round to it!'

I know I give the self help industry a hard time, but it's their own fault for not doing the most basic online research in to the garbage they spout! Brian can rest easy with this one however as this book does what it says on the cover.

Sure the 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and getting more done is pretty generic and at times fairly obvious, it's great to have these things laid down in a book for the casual reader and procrastinator like myself to browse and see if theres anything I can apply to my life. Thankfully there was and I have applied some of the suggestions there in which have helped me somewhat to a certain degree.

I cleared my desk of junk, it is creeping back but I am determined to keep on top of it. A clear work surface ready for you to sit down and work is one less reason to procrastinate over getting started. I started a daily diary, I write down what needs to be done the night before so my main to do liist is right there in the morning, waiting for me.

I have also tried to cut out the non-essential, non-productive work I have done in the past to allow me to concentrate on the work that is going to better my situation. Just 3 of 21 steps to beat procrastination, a recommended read, if you can be bothered that is.
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on 19 August 2006
I am throwing the other self-help books out and just keeping this one. It's a hundred or so pages of succinct and concise information. I re-read one chapter a day which takes a couple of minutes; and already the principles in the book have made a difference.
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on 10 April 2006
Eat That Frog is short, snappy and to the point.
Most books of this nature drone on about how great they are, and how much they will change your life etc; but once you've finished reading them the hype evaporates and you carry on as before. This book is different. It's small and unassuming... but it packs a punch that you will never forget. Based on the effect it's had on me I can genuinely say that it's a life changing book, and I heartily recommend you give it a go. It's not like it's too expensive to buy!
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