Not All To-Do Lists Are Created Equal—Here's How To Do Yours

Yes, that frog is big and ugly. It can also be a delicious way to start a productive day.

Every day, our to-do list gets filled with various tasks. But not all "to-do's" are created equal. Far from it.

Unfortunately, our natural tendency is to start with the small, easy tasks first, and push back the big, important ones because they're more uncomfortable.


That’s a costly mistake that greatly reduces our productivity while increasing our stress levels. It makes us focus on things that don’t always matter, and creates anxiety about finally facing the tasks we’ve been avoiding all day.

If you’re committed to becoming the best entrepreneur you can be, make a habit of identifying the most important item on your to-do list (the Big Ugly Frog) and immediately starting your work day with that task. No email, no Facebook, no distraction. Get right into it.

This will give you great momentum for the rest of the day and reduce your tendency to procrastinate.

And best of all, instead of getting stuck in busywork and wondering why you’re not getting more done, it will guarantee that each day you’re taking concrete steps toward moving your business forward.

Phil Drolet is a performance coach in Boulder, Colorado

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16 Comments

  • Mitaka Di

    Some credit should be given to Brian Tracy for the quote you've used. Also, elaborating a bit more on the concept would enable more people to understand what you are talking about as well as follow through. 

  • phildrolet

    I agree re: Brian Tracy- next time I will make sure to give him credit. 
    I only had a limited amount of space for the video and the text. What would you have added to clarify the strategy? 

  • cassette_walkman

    Or you could just decide to eat chicken.  Or eggs benedict. Frogs get stuck in your throat.

  • phildrolet

    Yes he originally came up with the name, and I still believe the strategy is worth repeating... Surprisingly few people have been exposed to it, and even fewer actually apply it. 

  • AM

    But what if your big ugly frog, can't be handled within a day?!

    You probably can't just keep working on the BUF for, say, a week straight while ignoring all other things...

  • phildrolet

    Good point. In that case, I'd invite you to break it down into smaller bite-sized pieces. This could mean writing 5 pages of a book, setting up 1 page of your website, writing the first half of a proposal draft, etc. 

    If that's not possible, you can begin each day with 2-3 hours of your Big Ugly Frog. 

  • Ryan

    Along the same lines of this.  I wonder if starting by breaking the Big Ugly Frog down into 3 sub frogs then listing those as your first items would help by making the Frog not look quite so big?

  • phildrolet

    Yeah absolutely. Smaller pieces are more manageable, help you stay on track better, and allow you to cross them off more often :) 

  • phildrolet

    You're probably partly right, some people will not... but I'm also sure some people who are on the path of personal development and really committed to their success will.