The following post is an excerpt from chapter 17 of Eat That Frog.

A word about frogs… It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.

Focus Your Attention

Focused attention is the key to high performance. The “attraction of distraction,” the lure of electronic and other interruptions, leads to diffused attention, a wandering mind, a lack of focus, and, ultimately, underachievement and failure.

Current research proves that continuously responding and reacting to e-mails, telephone calls, and texts has a negative effect on your brain, shortening your attention span and making it difficult, if not impossible, for you to complete the tasks upon which your future and your success depend.

When you check your e-mail first thing in the morning or when you respond to the bell or other sound that indicates an incoming e-mail or message, your brain releases a tiny shot of dopamine. This shot gives you a pleasant “buzz.” It stimulates your curiosity and causes you to react and respond immediately. You instantly forget whatever else you were doing and turn your full attention to the new message.

Like the sound of bells ringing when you win while playing a slot machine, the sound of the e-mail or text triggers the reaction of “What did I win?” You immediately stop your work to find out what your “prize” is.

When you start your day with a few shots of dopamine triggered by your e-mail or text alert going off, you find it extremely difficult to pay close attention to your important tasks for the rest of the day.

Some people believe that they can engage in multitasking, going back and forth between e-mails and important tasks. But people can focus only on one thing at a time. What they are really doing is called “task shifting.” They are shifting their attention back and forth, like swinging a searchlight from one object to another.

After an Internet interruption, it takes about seventeen minutes for you to shift your total attention back to your task and continue working. This is precisely why so many people today are working harder and harder, shifting from e-mail interruptions to work and back again, all day long, and getting less and less accomplished. They also make more mistakes.

The solutions are simple and are being adopted by the most productive people in every industry. First, don’t check your e-mail in the morning and immediately trigger the all-day dopamine addiction. Leave your devices off.

Second, if you must check your e-mail for any reason, get in and out fast, and get back to work. Turn off the sound on your computer, and put your phone on “vibrate.” Stop the stimulations that trigger the flow of dopamine and lead to continuous interruptions.

Finally, resolve to check your e-mail only twice a day, at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and then turn it off again each time. Provide a telephone number where someone can reach you in an emergency.

Whenever you are in a meeting with one or more people, follow the same protocol. Leave electronic devices off. Never insult the persons you are meeting with by working on your laptop or answering your phone. Pay 100 percent attention to the other people. This applies at home as well

Brian Tracy is one of the top business speakers in the world today. He has designed and presented seminars for more than 1,000 large companies and more than 10,000 small and medium- sized enterprises in 75 countries on the subjects of Leadership, Management, Professional Selling, Business Model Reinvention, and Profit Improvement. He has addressed more than 5,000,000 people in more than 5,000 talks and presentations worldwide. He currently speaks to 250,000 people per year. His fast-moving, entertaining video-based training programs are taught in 38 countries.

Brian is a bestselling author. In addition to Eat That Frog, Brian has written more than 80 books that have been translated into 42 languages, including Kiss That Frog!, Find Your Balance Point, Goals!, Flight Plan, Maximum Achievement, No Excuses!, Advanced Selling Strategies, and How the Best Leaders Lead. He is happily married, with four children and five grandchildren. He is the president of Brian Tracy International and lives in Solana Beach, California. He can be reached at briantracy@briantracy.com.

It’s school holiday time in Australia, and for the first time in a long time our family decided to stay in town. No big events planned, my kids are simply hanging out (and I’m trying to squeeze in some work). 

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There are few people I know who don’t want to change anything. Most who I encounter are contemplating changes ranging from small to gargantuan. Interestingly, the size of the shift often isn’t proportionate to the turmoil it causes. 

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