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Do you procrastinate?

Well, I just finished reading Brian Tracy's book, "Eat That Frog!: 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time," and I have to say, it's really, really good...

Unless you're the most uber-productive person to ever walk the planet you should at least give it a peek. It's only 128 pages long (I read it over the course of two days in between working) and it's very low on fluff.

The point behind the title goes back to an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it's almost certainly the worst thing you'll do all day.

So your "frog" is really your most challenging undertaking for the day, the one that you are most likely to procrastinate, but also the one that is most likely to have a positive impact on your life.

While the book focuses on 21 separate ways to stop procrastinating, 5 of them really spoke to me personally, so here's the rundown on my top 5 takeaways:

1. Plan Every Day in Advance

Put pen to paper. Before you begin going about your daily business, take 15-20 minutes to plan out your tasks. Spending 15-20 minutes in planning could end up saving you hours of time actually doing the things you must do for the day. Try it for yourself, and you'll see that it actually does work.

2. Apply the 80/20 Rule to EVERYTHING

Basically, 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results in any area. By focusing on the exclusive few top 20% activities and resisting the urge to "clear up the minor things first," you can up your productivity drastically. Spend some time considering what your productive activities are so that you can remind yourself to focus on them more than just 20% of the time.

3. Use the ABCDE Method Continually

This is almost certainly the largest takeaway for me, and it's also likely the easiest to apply (maybe that's why I like it).

Categorize your tasks by assigning them a letter according to their significance: (A) Must Be Done (aka your "frog"), (B) Should Be Done, (C) Would Be Nice, (D) Delegate to someone else, or (E) Eliminate altogether (without any consequences).

Once you've categorized your responsibilities, prioritize them using numbers. For instance, you could have 3 "A" tasks: A-1, A-2, and A-3.

Work through the list sticking to the order you assigned each task. This will make sure that you get your "frogs" out of the way first thing, which will have the utmost positive effect on your life.

4. Identify your Key Constraints

It's usually effortless to make out the one biggest factor that is holding you back from accomplishing a task. By identifying this restraining factor, you can focus every part of your energy on eliminating it. Once that is done you can repeat the process with the next largest limiting factor. By repeating this process over and over you make the task much easier to complete. Determine your limiting factors and focus on eliminating them.

5. Slice and Dice the Task

By cutting a substantial task into lesser "slices" you can make the task less overwhelming. Psychologically the task is easier if you complete it in a series of bite-sized chunks. Also, once you finish a "slice" you're more likely to feel like taking on another slice. This will help you get those big, intimidating projects done more rapidly than you believed feasible.

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Industry Forecast Predicts Trends in Healthier Options and “Greener” Restaurants in 2009
Association’s Forecast Also Shows Strong Consumer Interest in Value, Convenience

(Washington, D.C.) Research released today by the National Restaurant Association shows that Americans are looking for healthier options and “greener” restaurants when they dine out, in addition to an increased interest in value and convenience. Surveys of restaurant operators, customers and chefs indicate that restaurateurs will sharpen their appeal in 2009 in these areas and that restaurants’ responsiveness to customers’ preferences will drive these industry trends, according to the Association's 2009 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

“The restaurant industry is both innovative and resilient, and will remain the cornerstone of the nation’s economy and communities, employing and serving millions of Americans in 2009,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the Association. “Consumers are looking for value, variety, healthier options and convenience, and they know that restaurants will provide them the experiences and choices they are seeking. Americans continue to rely on restaurants as a key part of their lifestyle as the industry provides the food, value and service customers seek, which drives both the trends and success of our industry. In 2009, it is predicted that nearly half of consumers’ food budget will be spent in restaurants, rewarding the continued responsiveness and innovation that our industry provides to budget-conscious Americans.”

According to new Association research, healthy kids’ meals will be among the hottest trends in 2009. Out of nearly 210 culinary items listed on the Association’s “What’s Hot” survey of more than 1,600 American Culinary Federation member chefs, nutritionally balanced children’s dishes came in as the No. 4 trend, and fruit/vegetable side items for kids ranked sixth. In a separate survey, quickservice operators named healthy options in kids meals as the No. 1 food trend in the quickservice segment in 2009.

Overall, chefs ranked nutrition/health as the No. 11 trend on restaurant menus for 2009. Underscoring the importance of healthful foods, produce and fruit items, smaller dishes, fish, and gluten-free/allergy-conscious meals were all among the top-20 items on the third-annual chef survey. According to Association consumer research, three in four adults say they are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago. Nearly three in 10 adults – 27 percent – have gone online to search for nutrition information about restaurant food, up from 24 percent a year ago.

The No. 1 trend among chefs was local produce according to the “What’s Hot” survey, and the local-foods trend has become particularly popular at fine-dining establishments. According to the Association’s research, 89 percent of fine-dining operators serve locally sourced items, and nine in 10 believe demand for locally sourced items will grow in their segment in the future. Close to three in 10 quickservice operators serve locally sourced items now and nearly half believe these items will grow more popular in their segment in the future. Seventy percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items.

Restaurateurs will also continue to show increasing leadership in becoming “greener” in 2009— by taking action such as reducing energy and water use—in step with patrons’ interest in environmental issues. About four in 10 fullservice-restaurant operators and nearly three in 10 quickservice operators say they plan to devote more of their 2009 budgets to green initiatives. Restaurant patrons like the idea: 44 percent surveyed recently said they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on an operation’s practices in the areas of energy and water conservation.

Entering 2009, the Forecast projects that consumers feel tugged in two directions. On one hand, consumers express serious concern about finances, with nearly all reporting that they are more worried about the economy than they were the year before. On the other hand, consumers remain strongly desirous of continued—and even increased—use of restaurants.

Forty-five percent of adults say restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle, one of three say they are not eating out as often as they wish, and 35 percent of adults say that on a weekly basis, they are not purchasing take-out foods to go or having it delivered as often as they would like.

To be successful during the present economic downturn and prepare for an eventual recovery with its pent-up demand for restaurant services, operators are offering the value patrons desire in conjunction with operational improvements that cut costs without detracting from the dining experience. The top trend restaurateurs see for 2009 is an expanded focus on value, with 36 percent of quickservice operators and 16 percent of casual-dining operators seeing the demand for value as the year’s top trend in their segment.

The restaurant industry’s resilience amidst the weak economy and relative strength compared to other industries is driven by restaurants’ responsiveness to consumers’ desire for convenience, value and socialization. The increasingly essential nature of restaurant services buoys the industry even during times of economic uncertainty: Nearly seven in 10 adults agreed in a recent National Restaurant Association survey that purchasing meals from restaurants, take-out and delivery places makes it easier for families with children to manage their day-to-day lives, and nearly eight in 10 agreed that going out to a restaurant with family and/or friends gives them an opportunity to socialize and is a better way for them to make use of their leisure time rather than cooking at home.

As American adults buy a meal or a snack from a restaurant 5.8 times per week on average, restaurants will keep their finger on the pulse of consumer trends. Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record $566 billion in 2009. The nation's 945,000 restaurant-and-foodservice outlets are expected to employ 13 million individuals, and add 1.8 million new career and employment opportunities in the next decade. The industry is heading into 2009 as a continuing economic powerhouse and an essential part of Americans' lifestyle.

For more information about the National Restaurant Association’s 2009 Restaurant Industry Forecast, visit
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