Posted by: changheuk | July 9, 2009

Eating that frog

Just read Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, and it really encompasses a lot of ideals I’ve been absorbing on self-help/development sites over the past while.

What “Eating the frog” really means is to do the most difficult, ugliest task ASAP. Ultimately, this is a self-test of discipline and perseverance, but this is highly trainable as a skill, and here are ways to conquer these frogs.

Here’s what I absorbed from the book:

Define your goals and tasks clearly with the end in mind. This goes hand in hand with imagining and feeling the effect that the success and benefits from reaching this goal will bring you. You need to know what you need to aim for first.

Isolate the biggest problem right now. This applies to short-term (today) or long-term (within a year or more). And you have to simply eat it NOW.

80/20 rule. The king of rules – realize that 80% of your current hindrance is based on 20% of the obstacles, something most people can’t bring themselves to destroy since they perceive it as hard.

Have multiple frogs. Consider what is the most important thing to conquer right now. Say it’s school, since you are behind academically, but you also want to catch up on your gaming and language-learning. Of course, we’ll have to conquer school first. What’s the biggest frog existing for school-related things right now? Say it’s the midterm next week. Kill that first. Then kill off the rest, and so on.

Self-pressure/responsibility. You have to be able to work without supervision, and pressure yourself to work. This is hugely dependent on: self-talk. Whenever you waver around, force yourself with sentences such as “Do it now!” or “Get back to work!” You’ll also need to develop a sense of urgency.

Flow. Skilled people can get into a state of mental flow that brings forth maximum concentration and productivity quickly. Practise that as well, and make sure you don’t stop until you finish the task at hand.

Timeblock. Sell off your valuable, peak-concentration hours in the morning or afternoon to the most important things you have to do, and also making sure you have a large chunk of time for that. Let your small mechanical, periodical tasks, as well as relaxation time take up your lower-concentration hours, such as night time.

Be a complete optimist. Explains itself. The faster and better you are handling your frog, the better you feel about yourself, and that leads to positive emotions for the rest of the day. Keeping this state of flow combined with high hopes and energized focus will definitely lead to solid results.


Let’s try some of this stuff on action, with me as the guinea pig:

Goals (fast-forward):

I am majoring in Electrical Engineering at UBC.

I am speaking fluent Japanese, and am studying on an exchange term at Tokyo University.

I am a ranked A-level badminton player.

I am a decent singer that can achieve good reputation and comments on YouTube from my online audience.

I have friends that have a good sense of mutual respect and sense of helping that are acquainted with me.

I have my ARCT in Piano and regularly teach kids for side income, as well as compete in competitions.

I have a sub-20 3×3 speedcubing average.

I have a good knowledge of the economy and stock-market and can make a steady income off it.


The reason I don’t put “I will blah blah blah” is because that is not as effective to enforce those goals in yourself.

To be honest, some of those aren’t realistic. I would be happy if I could even accomplish the first three in a matter of 2-3 years. But if we apply more of these principles in action, it might just turn out to be realistic after all.



I play too much DotA and cannot hold back from playing with friends.

I procrastinate like no other.

I am not consistent every day with making progress those goals, because I don’t get enough sleep and break up my time chunks.


A-ha! While that was sort of vague, we can easily isolate the biggest problems:

DotA, lack of energy, lack of pre-planning.

The biggest and toughest problems at hand would also be:

School, school, and school.


It’s time to apply these principles for school, and make myself work for those goals.

Thank You for reading.


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