Joe Cotellese

👋 Hi! I'm Joe – product guy, coach and founder.

Eat That Frog Book Summary


I read the book “Eat That Frog” a few years ago. It’s a book that helps focus you on getting stuff done and avoiding procrastination. If you’re listening to the audio version of Eat That Frog this outline might be helpful to you.


Author has read many different productivity books and articles. Tried techniques. Ones that worked he incorporates into his process and training. Work on the most important thing. Your ability to identify and focus on your most important task will make you successful.

Chapter 1 - Set the Table

There is one quality that one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants and a burning desire to achieve it. NAPOLEON HILL #quote Think on paper to be successful. People who write their goals accomplish more. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Decide exactly what you want.
  2. Write it down. Think on paper.
  3. Set a deadline for your goals, set sub-deadlines if you need to.
  4. Make a list of everything you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
  5. Organize the list into a plan.
  6. Take action on your plan immediately
  7. Resolve to do something everyday that moves you forward.

Written goals motivate you. Review them daily.

Chapter 2 - Plan Every Day in Advance

Alec Mackenzie wrote, “Taking action without thinking things through is a prime source of problems.” #quote

Increase Return on Energy

Two Extra Hours per Day

Different Lists for Different Purposes

Create N Lists

  • Master Lists
  • Monthly Lists
  • Weekly Lists
  • Daily Lists

Planning a Project

The 10/90 Rule says that the first 10% of time you spend planning and organizing will save you 90% of the time getting things done.

Chapter 3 - Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything

We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright. JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE #quote Most people proctastinate on the most important 10-20% of stuff. Do the 80% unimportant stuff. The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. Don’t do stuff in bottom 80% while top 20% are left to do. Rule: Resist the temptation to clear up small things first. Just thinking about starting and finishing an important task can motivate you. Amount of time to do important work is about same as unimportant work.


  1. Make a list of all the key goals, activities, projects, and responsibilities in your life today. Which of them are, or could be, in the top 10 or 20 percent of tasks that represent, or could represent, 80 or 90 percent of your results?
  2. Resolve today that you are going to spend more and more of your time working in those few areas that can really make a difference in you life and career and less and less time on lower value activities.

Chapter 4 - Consider the Consequences

Every great man has become great, every successful man has succeeded, in proportion as he has confined his powers to one particular channel. ORISON SWETT MARDEN #quote Rule: Future intent influences and often determines present actions. Rule: Long-term thinking improves short-term decision making.

Chapter 5 - Practice Creative procrastination

You can’t do everything so procrastinate on the small things. You can’t set priorities if you don’t set posteriorities - that is the things you do less of or not at all. Say “NO” to anything that is not a high-value use of your time.

Procrastinate on purpose

Don’t be an unconscious procrastinator. If you’re going to procrastinate on something at least choose it consciously.

Set Posteriorities on Time Consuming activities

Review Life and Work all the time. Find tasks you can abandon. Cut down on TV and do things that enhance the quality of your life. Find tasks at work you can delegate or eliminate to free up more time for the important stuff.

Eat That Frog

  1. Practice “zero-based thinking” in every part of your life. Ask yourself continually, “If I were not doing this already, knowing what I now know, would I start doing it again today?” If it is something you would not start again today, knowing what you now know, it is a prime candidate for abandonment or creative procrastination.
  2. Examine each of your personal and work activities and evaluate it based on your current situation. Select at least one activity to abandon immediately or at least deliberately put off until your more important goals have been achieved.

Chapter 6 - Use the ABCDE Method Continually

ABCDE is a simple prioritization method to use every single day.

Think on paper

Write out everything you need to do for the day.

Put an A, B,C, D, E next to each item.

  • A - very important must do task.
  • B - should do
  • C - nice to do
  • D - delegate - anything someone else can do, they should do.
  • E - eliminate, if you don’t do it won’t make a real difference

Take action immediately

Focus on getting all of the items done on your A1 list.

Eat that Frog

  1. Review your list and ABDE every task and activity. Select an A job and work on it until completion. Do nothing else until this is done.

  2. Try this everyday for a month.

    Note: I like to put a reminder on my calendar for things like this so I can build a habit.

Chapter 7 - Focus on key result areas

You should ask “Why are they paying me?” over and over throughout your career.

If you’re not sure it’s going to be hard to focus on the right stuff.

You’re hired to get specific results.

You can probably break your job down to five to seven key areas that require specific results.

Key Result: something in which you are completely responsible. If you don’t do it, doesn’t get done.

Clarity is essential

Identify the key results areas for your work. Talk to your boss and see if they are aligned. Make sure your team agrees with you.

Grade yourself

Give yourself a grade in each of the key results area. You can use any scale, the author suggests 1 - 10.

Your weakest area will limit how you use all of your other skills.

Poor perforamced == procrastination

People procrastinate on things they aren’t good at. Make a plan to overcome your weak areas so you don’t procrastinate and make your problems worse.

One question

What one skill do I need to develop and excel at in order to have a huge impact on my career? Use this question to guide your career for the rest of your life. You probably know the answer if you look close enough.

Ask your boss, co-workers, friends and family.

All skills are learnable.

Eat that frog

  1. Identify key result areas, write them down, then grade them.
  2. Talk to your boss about the list, get alignment

Chapter 8 - Apply the Law of Three

Chapter 9 - Prepare thoroughly before you begin

Chapter 10 - Take it one oil barrel at a time

Chapter 11 - Upgrade your key skill Sometimes

Chapter 12 - Leverage your special talents

Chapter 13 - Identify your key constraints

Chapter 14 - Put the pressure on yourself

Chapter 15 - Maximize your personal powers

Chapter 16 - Motivate yourself into action

Chapter 17 - Get out of the technological time sinks

Chapter 18 - Slice and Dice the Task

Sometimes big projects cause procrastination. Plan the whole thing out then slice off one piece at a time.

Develope a Complusion to Closure

Small success build on each other and you’ll want to close more tasks.

Swiss Cheese Tasks

Punch holes in your tasks by time boxing your work.

Eat that Frog!

  1. Try one of these two techniques immediately.
  2. Become action oriented - hear a good idea? Take action on it immediately.

Chapter 19 - Create Large Chunks of Time

Most of the really important work you need to do takes large chunks of time. You need to make sure you allocate that time for yourself.

Schedule Blocks of time.

Use a planner / calendar

During these blocks of time, turn off your interruptions.

NOTE : there are a bunch of great apps for limiting interuptions. If you’re on an macOS or iOS device try using the Focus modes.

Make every minute count

Use your travel and transition times to create little pockets where you can get stuff done.

Note - If you do GTD, create a @Transition context for small tasks that can be done in pockets of time.?

Eat That Frog!

  1. continue to consolidate large chunks of time. Use that time to work on big tasks
  2. plan prepare your work in advance.

Chapter 20 - Develop a Sense of Urgency

The most productive people plan their work in advance and then hit the groun running.

Getting into “Flow”

Working on the most important stuff at high levels of activity will get you into the Flow state. Flow makes you feel elated, clear send of calm and effectiveness.

Create a sense of Urgency to get into “Flow”

Can I use timers to help me get into this state?

Build up a sense of momentum

The faster you move, the more energy you have, more you get done, more effective you feel.

Do It Now

Mantra, say it over and over again. When distracted, say “Back to work!” over and over again

Eat That Frog!

  1. Pick one area where you procrastinate and develop a habit of fast action in that area
  2. When you see an opportunity or problem, take action immediately.

Chapter 21 - Single Handle Every Task

Core Concept - Do one thing at a time until it is 100% done. This reduces time to complete it because you are not task switching

Don’t Waste Time

Once you’ve decided on your most important task, everything else you are doing is a waste of time.

Self-Discipline Is the Key

Focusing on and completing a task 100% shapes and molds your character. You become a superior person.

Eat That Frog!

  1. Take action!
  2. Discipline yourself to persevere without diversion until it is 100% complete.

Conclusion - Putting it all together

  1. Set the table: Decide exactly what you want. Clarity is essential. Write out your goals and objectives before you begin.

  2. Plan every day in advance: Think on paper. Every minute you spend in planning can save you five or ten minutes in execution.

  3. Apply the 80/20 Rule to everything: Twenty percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Always concentrate your efforts on that top 20 percent.

  4. Consider the consequences: Your most important tasks and priorities are those that can have the most serious consequences, positive or negative, on your life or work. Focus on these above all else.

  5. Practice creative procrastination: Since you can’t do everything, you must learn to deliberately put off those tasks that are of low value so that you have enough time to do the few things that really count.

  6. Use the ABCDE Method continually: Before you begin work on a list of tasks, take a few moments to organize them by value and priority so you can be sure of working on your most important activities.

  7. Focus on key result areas: Identify and determine those results that you absolutely, positively have to get to do your job well, and work on them all day long.

  8. The Law of Three: Identify the three things you do in your work that account for 90 percent of your contribution, and focus on getting them done before anything else. You will then have more time for your family and personal life.

  9. Prepare thoroughly before you begin: Have everything you need at hand before you start. Assemble all the papers, information, tools, work materials, and numbers you might require so that you can get started and keep going.

  10. Take it one oil barrel at a time: You can accomplish the biggest and most complicated job if you just complete it one step at a time.

  11. Upgrade your key skills: The more knowledgeable and skilled you become at your key tasks, the faster you start them and the sooner you get them done.

  12. Leverage your special talents: Determine exactly what it is that you are very good at doing, or could be very good at, and throw your whole heart into doing those specific things very, very well.

  13. Identify your key constraints: Determine the bottlenecks or choke points, internal or external, that set the speed at which you achieve your most important goals, and focus on alleviating them.

  14. Put the pressure on yourself: Imagine that you have to leave town for a month, and work as if you had to get all your major tasks completed before you left.

  15. Maximize your personal power: Identify your periods of highest mental and physical energy each day, and structure your most important and demanding tasks around these times. Get lots of rest so you can perform at your best.