Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy [Book Summary & PDF]

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy is a well written and easy to digest list of 21 tips to help you stop procrastinating and get more work done. This is a great guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed with work and doesn't know where to start. Brian Tracy shares different methods for planning and prioritising, shows you how to identify the most important tasks and tips for keeping focused. An excellent and helpful guide!





Who is this summary for?

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy is a well written and easy to digest list of 21 tips to help you stop procrastinating and get more work done. This is a great guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed with work and doesn't know where to start. Brian Tracy shares different methods for planning and prioritising, shows you how to identify the most important tasks and tips for keeping focused. An excellent and helpful guide!

About the author

Canadian-American Brian Tracy has been in the business of economics, history, psychology, and business for over 30 years. As a top-selling author, he has contributed towards and written over 70 books. Tracy is passionate about public speaking and addresses many corporate and public audiences about personal and professional development.

In this summary

This summary will begin with a brief discussion about the 3 key qualities you need to work in order to develop the habits that Tracy is going to recommend. Then we’ll dive into each of the 21 tips ranging from planning your day in advance, the law of three and slicing and dicing tasks.



Tracy explains that decision, discipline, and determination are three of the critical qualities necessary to take on new habits. Decision is necessary in relation to completing tasks and seeing them through to the end. Discipline comes into play when you find yourself needing to repeat new habits over and over until they are automated. Finally, Tracy explains that determination is important in the introductory stages of any new habit. You need determination to drive the motivation to keep going until your habit becomes more natural.


Tracy describes his first tip as ‘setting the table’. He explains that having clarity over goals and objectives is one of the most important tools when it comes to productivity. When you are clear on what your goals are, and what you need to do to achieve them, you will find yourself working faster and getting more done. Tracy outlines the 7 key steps you need to follow to achieve a sense of clarity and get more done:

  1. Decide what it is that you want
  2. Commit to that by writing it down
  3. Establish a deadline, and sub-deadlines for certain tasks
  4. Identify everything that is needed to be done in order to reach your goal and write it all down in a list
  5. Arrange your list into a clear plan, beginning with what needs to be addressed first.
  6. Start actioning your plan as soon as possible
  7. Commit to working on something every day to ensure you are doing everything you can to reach your goal.

”Clear written goals have a wonderful effect on your thinking. They motivate you and galvanize you into action. They stimulate your creativity, release your energy, and help you to overcome procrastination as much as any other factor.”


Tracy believes that you should plan every single day in advance. Never reach a day without knowing what you plan to get done. Being able to plan things will have a significant effect on your life, it means that you will never approach a day of the unknown, you’ll always understand what is expected of you and what you expect of yourself.

”Your mind, your ability to think, plan, and decide, is your most powerful tool for overcoming procrastination.”

Tracy defines his “Six-P Formula:’ Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.’ Tracy explains that planning is a simple task, it doesn’t require a lot of your time, yet an astounding number of people fail to plan. And if you don’t already plan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised about your productivity levels when you begin a planning process.

When you have a large project pending, take the time to list all steps required to complete the task. If these steps are arranged into a sequence according to priority and deadlines, you’ll immediately have a clear timeline and plan in front of you. Work from the top of the list down and you’ll find yourself making massive progress before you know it.


Tracy believes that the 80/20 rule can be applied to everything. 80/20 is a popular way to view business and sales behaviour. For example, 20% of what you do will likely account for 80% of your results. 20% of your customers will create 80% of your sales. You get the idea. Tracy is a firm believer of this ratio and thinks you can apply this to your everyday tasks.


Tracy explains, that you may have a list of 10 different tasks or jobs, each of them amounting to a similar amount of time. But the reality is that each of those tasks will not provide the same value as the others. It’s likely that one or two of them are significantly more important and will add a great deal more value than the others. And obviously, these are the tasks you need to do first. Prioritise your list in order of importance, just by achieving that one task, you may achieve more than if you had done each of the other eight or nine tasks. In Tracy’s wise words, “eat that frog first.”

”The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. But the payoff and rewards for completing these tasks efficiently can be tremendous. For this reason, you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done. Resist the temptation to clear up small things first.”


Before you take on any task or activity, Tracy recommends you consider the potential outcomes and consequences of said task. This is what should help you determine the importance of the task.

Another thing that Tracy suggests you consider is how you view your time. He explains that anyone who has a long-term view of their life is likely to make significantly better decisions about how their time is spent and on what tasks. Those who have a narrow or shorter view of their life and career are likely to not make the best decisions. If you think about your future, 5, 10 or 20 years in the future, you’re likely to make choices and act in ways that will ensure you will reach your long-term goals. This will significantly increase your productivity and work output.

”Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.”


Tracy recommends practicing creative procrastination. This is the 5th tip. The reality is that you are unlikely to be able to get every single thing you need to do done on any given day. You’ll need to let something go, and this is where Tracy recommends you procrastinate on the smaller tasks. The little bits and pieces that can be time wasters are often the tasks you can skip. If you choose to procrastinate your small, unimportant tasks you’ll find yourself more successful than if you choose to procrastinate on the important, value-adding tasks.

You need to determine where your priorities. And along with that, Tracy explains you need to set posteriorities. While we all understand a priory, a posteriority is defined as lower-value activities that you do less of, later, and sometimes you don’t do it at all. Understand what tasks are priorities and what ones are posteriorities.


Tracy explains that the ABCDE method is one way you can set your priorities daily. It’s a simple method that has the potential to save you time and increase your productivity tenfold. So how do you do it?

  1. Begin with a list of all of your daily tasks.
  2. Label each task with an A, B, C, D or E.
  3. A = the most important task, something that HAS to be done today. And there can be more than 1 A task, but again, prioritise these as A1, A2, A3 etc. A1 being the single most important.
  4. Tasks labeled B, C, D, or E are there to be dealt with only once all A tasks are completed. These tasks are not your priority. They get done once your priorities have been fully addressed.

”Use your willpower to get going and stay going on this one most important job, the most important single task you could possibly be doing. Eat the whole frog and don’t stop until it’s finished completely.”


Tracy explains that you need to focus on your key result areas. Tracy defines a key result area as something that you are entirely in control of and responsible for its completion. Nobody else is going to do it, so if you don’t, it won’t get done.

When working in an office, it’s important to have a discussion with your boss or superior and identify your own key result areas. These are your most important responsibilities and it’s important that you and everyone that you work with understands which areas of work are designated to whom.

Tracy suggests, that once your key result areas have been identified, you rate yourself on your strengths and weaknesses within that area. Define what areas you are strong in with a 9 or a 10, and areas that need work can be a 1 or a 2. This will allow you to acknowledge where you make the most results and where you are perhaps underperforming. The next step is to consider what skills you can learn to improve your weaknesses and have a significant impact on your work output and career. This is where you need to focus!


Tracy’s 8th tip is to apply the law of three. You need to identify 3 key tasks that you believe offer the most value and contribution to your company. This is where your focus needs to be the majority of the time in order for your work output to be performing at its best.

Tracy suggests you take 30 seconds to write down your top 3 goals. These should come naturally to you, don’t spend a lot of time pondering. Tracy explains that in your life, you have 3 key areas, these are family/relationships, health/fitness, and your career. If you can have one goal for each area then you are probably focusing on the right things. Next Tracy recommends you take a few minutes to rate yourself in each of these areas to establish what you need to work on the most to reach your goals.

Work all the time you work

When you’re working, you should really be working. Tracy explains that any time you waste chatting with co-workers, day-dreaming or doing non-work related tasks means that you have less time to focus on whats important. When you commit a time slot to work, work for the entire time.

”To keep your life in balance, you should resolve to work all the time you work.”

The reason you work hard is so that you can have the best possible life outside of work with your family right? This is why Tracy recommends setting your priorities at work, ensure that you are working on the most important tasks that will allow you to reach that perfect work/life balance.


Tracy explains that preparation is key. If you want to avoid procrastination and time wasting, the best thing to do is ensure that you have every tool or resource required before you begin a task. Being prepared means you won’t have to divert from the work at hand to get something you need. You can knuckle down and focus on the work at hand as soon as you are ready, with no need for distractions until the task is completed.

”One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is for you to get your mind off the huge task in front of you and focus on a single action that you can take. One step at a time.”


Tracy explains that often when you feel like you lack the knowledge or ability to complete a task, you’ll find yourself procrastinating. It has to do with lacking confidence in ability. The best way to prevent this type of procrastination is to be constantly upgrading your skills and always learning. You’ll never know everything you need to know so dedicating yourself to constantly learning is going to benefit you in the long run.

Tracy believes that learning continually is that minimum requirement for success, there are 3 steps you can take to reach the required mastery:

  1. Read every day for 60 minutes, about something relevant to your field of work.
  2. Whenever an opportunity for a course or seminar arises, take it.
  3. Use your driving time to listen to relevant audiobooks or podcasts.


Tracy explains that every individual has their own talents or abilities that are special and help them stand out from the rest. The key is to identify what yours are and leverage these to boost your career. These talents can make you extremely valuable and don’t have any shame in identifying these and pointing these out to others.


Just as we all have special talents, Tracy acknowledges that we all have our own key constraints. There may be one thing standing in your way from achieving your goals. If you can identify what your constraint is, and come up with a plan to combat your weakness, you’ll be able to proceed and reach your goals.

”What stops you or holds you back from eating the frogs that can really make a difference? Why aren’t you at your goal already?”


Although it gets a bad rep, Tracy explains that often putting the pressure on yourself is the key to success. He explains that not many people are capable of working without supervision or any pressure. Most people rely on leaders to impose time constraints and pressure in order to get work done. If you can learn how to put the pressure on yourself, without relying on someone else’s input, you’ll find yourself making progress rapidly.

”You must choose your own frogs and then make yourself eat them in their order of importance.”


Tracy explains that you and your body are essentially a machine. You need to be well oiled, fuelled and rested in order to be able to perform at your best. It’s not only about the physical either, there’s also your mental and emotional energies that need to be looked after. If you look after yourself well, you’ll be able to work harder and work longer, but if you’re burned out or undernourished you’ll find your progress coming to a rapid halt. Tracy has 4 tips for maximising your own personal powers:

  1. Don’t overwork, this more often than not leaders to underperforming.
  2. Understand what your ideal work pace is.
  3. Ensure that you get enough sleep daily.
  4. Look after your physical and mental health, don’t neglect it.


Motivation is one of those funny traits, a lot of people assume it’s something you either have, or you don’t have. But that’s not the case. Tracy explains that all of your personal emotions, whether they are positive or negative, are directly related to how you talk to and treat yourself. We all blame things that happen to us for how we feel, but Tracy points out that it’s not the event that determines your feelings, but the way you interpret the event.

”Your version of events largely determines whether these events motivate or de-motivate you, whether they energize or de-energize you.”

Tracy explains that being an optimist is the very best way to remain motivated. Any people, actions and situations that surround you can be seen as positively as you choose them to be. Don’t take words or reactions the wrong way, instead, be constantly searching for the good.

”You must refuse to let the unavoidable difficulties and setbacks of daily life affect your mood or emotions.”


Although we struggle to remember a life before technology and can’t imagine what we’d do without it, technology can be a real time waster. The new era of the internet has provided us with the ability to be constantly communicating or accessing information. Personal or business related. It’s become an impending distraction that Tracy identifies as problematic.

Tracy explains that even though you have the ability to remain in constant contact and to be constantly connected, this isn’t essential. It’s actually extremely beneficial to disconnect regularly from all of your devices, otherwise. This is also an increasing problem when it comes to work, being constantly accessible means that distraction arises more regularly than ever.

”Remember, when you go away for a day, a week, or a month and you are out of touch with your communication devices, nothing happens. The world seems to continue revolving whether or not you are in continuous contact with it. Very few things are so important that they cannot wait.”


Another technique that Tracy recommends is to slice and dice the task, or as Tracy puts it, reducing a big task to a salami slice size. This is an effective method of handling big tasks, you simply detail the entire task, then break it down into more manageable tasks or slices. You can start with just a small slice and know that you are still making progress.

“Psychologically, you will find it easier to do a single, small piece of a large project than to start the whole job.”

Tracy explains that once you’ve completes one slice, no matter how small, you’ll feel a sense of motivation to keep the ball rolling and you’ll move onto the next slice. It’s less overwhelming than tackling one giant task and more often than not you get more done this way. It’s certainly less confronting.


Tracy recommends setting aside large chunks of time so you can focus on the really important work. It’s important that these blocks of time are unbroken and uninterrupted. Schedule these time-chunks in advance and commit to them. Use a planner or a calendar to map them out and make sure you make every minute count. As we discussed before, commit to only working when your working.

”Most of the really important work you do requires large chunks of unbroken time to complete.”


Tracy’s second to last tip ties in well with the one we discussed earlier about putting pressure on yourself. This tip is the importance of developing a sense of urgency and building momentum.

”When you regularly take continuous action toward your most important goals, you activate the Momentum Principle of success. “

Tracy explains that the Momentum principle of success explains that although getting started may seem to take an initially large amount of energy, the energy required to keep going is going to be significantly less.


”Every great achievement of humankind has been preceded by a long period of hard, concentrated work until the job was done. Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.”

To single handle a task, you are required to work only on that task, without any distraction from beginning through to completion, focusing on only one thing at a time. It’s a matter of seeing it right through to the end as rapidly as possible while avoiding any temptation to stop mid-way through. Tracy explains that by concentrating on only one task at a time and avoiding all distractions you can reduce the time spend on the task by up to 50%. That’s worth doing!




Key Takeaways

  • Have clarity on your goals and objectives.
  • Plan your day in advance.
  • Apply the 80/20 rule to everything.
  • Focus on the most important tasks, not all of the tasks.
  • Understand potential outcomes and consequences of all tasks.
  • Procrastinating is OK if it’s on low-value tasks.
  • Prioritise your tasks with an A, B, C, D or E. Only move on once the A tasks are completed.
  • Focus on your key area results, the tasks you are entirely responsible for.
  • Be constantly learning and upgrading your skills.
  • Look after yourself in order to perform at your best.
  • Remember that taking time away from technology can be beneficial.
  • Slice and dice tasks into smaller, actionable steps.
  • Set aside large chunks of time.
  • Develop a sense of urgency.
  • Single handle every task.

Further Reading

Getting Things Done is arguably one of the world's most well-known book on productivity. The lessons in this book should be considered essential reading for anyone looking to pursue a more productive lifestyle.

Arguably just as influential as Allen’s Getting Things Done is Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey explores a number of different paradigms, principles and habits that will help you become more productive!

Zen to Done by Leo Babauta is a really interesting and complimentary read. Leo has drawn the best concepts from the two most popular productivity systems; Allen’s Getting Things Done and Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People and created what he describes as the ‘Ultimate Productivity System’.

The 4-Hour Work Week teaches techniques to increase your time and financial freedom giving you more lifestyle options. By automating a passive income and liberating yourself from unproductive tasks you can live the lifestyle of the ‘new rich' – one defined by having, doing and being what you want. The author, Tim Ferriss, is an absolute genius and someone every entrepreneur or internet marketer should look up to.

Guidelines is my eBook that summarises the main lessons from 33 of the best-selling self-help books in one place. It is the ultimate book summary; Available as a 80-page ebook and 115-minute audio book. Guidelines lists 31 rules (or guidelines) that you should follow to improve your productivity, become a better leader, do better in business, improve your health, succeed in life and become a happier person.

Action Steps

  • Pick 1-3 of Tracy’s tips that you want to implement first. Commit 100% to doing these every single days for at least 30 days.
  • Identify at least one way to keep yourself accountable to these new habits. Remember to be disciplined and determined.
  • Once these have become a natural part of your life, consider tackling a few more!
  • Download the complete book on Amazon.
This summary is not intended as a replacement for the original book and all quotes are credited to the above mentioned author and publisher.