Over the weekend, I read the short little book, Eat that Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.
Whether you listen to or read this little book, it’s a short read filled with helpful ideas. Although it’s hardly groundbreaking information in the realm of personal productivity (really, not many productivity books are), it’s full of a lot of helpful motivational material.
While reading, I also found many of the principles to be helpful in becoming a better reader, and in reading more without living less. It was a good reminder that good readers learn how to eat frogs and eat elephants.
How to Eat Frogs and Eat Elephants
1. How do you eat a frog? Pick the ugliest one and eat it first.
When author Brian Tracy began to ask people (mostly in business) what they did that made them stand out in a field of average, he began to notice they all had something in common — they consistently and regularly recognized their “frogs” and at them first.
No worries, no frogs were harmed in the writing or applying of this book. By “eating frogs” Tracy is referring to the big, difficult tasks that are most important in producing results. He draws the phrase from Mark Twain’s advice, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
When making plans, take action. Do something immediately that will move you toward your goal. If your goal is reading, then read that book!
Maybe the frogs in front of you — when it comes to increasing your reading — are selecting a book, making time to read, or even just opening the next book. That’s your frog; start eating!
Tracy also noticed that those who were consistently “eating frogs,” developed a sort of psychological response to the thrill of accomplishing their goals. The “high” of actually getting tough stuff done and exercising self-discipline compelled them to take on the next difficult task, and the next. Eventually, they became addicted to their success. (While I believe that in some cases this could potentially prove problematic spiritually and emotionally if other life priorities are not taken into consideration, I think there’s a helpful point to consider here. The more you successfully take on a seemingly difficult task, the easier it becomes to do so. Habits are built, and often the dread turns to delight.)
2. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Maybe you’re like me, and you get paralysis of choice: not knowing what to do because you want to do everything. Or in this case, read everything.
Your goal is to read 35 books for the next year? But which ones? And how will you be able to keep up? Well, take the first bite. You might only know of 2 books on your list so far, and wonder how you’ll come up with more ideas. Don’t let that stop you from reading your first two choices. Read that book!
You’re eating an elephant, which might seem impossible. But it’s not impossible when you do it one bite at a time. With each bite, however, don’t forget that you’re eating an elephant. Keep the big picture in front of you. It helps to know what the big goal is, and as you “eat” often your mind will fill in some of the gaps to help you think of what the next step might be. (And if not, ask fellow readers for recommendations — book suggestions, ideas on how to use reading formats, and what they’ve done to get to be big readers.)
I still have hundreds of books on my to-read list that I may never get to. But I am also adding slowly but surely to my have-read list, too. Plod with patience, but go at it.