Creating a long list of things you need to do is easy. It may help you be more efficient too. The problem with a traditional ‘to-do’ list is it only works up to a point. If you want to get more done, be more productive and feel better about what you’re achieving, it’s time for a “to don’t list”.
What’s a “To don’t list”?
Simple – a list of the things that you will not do, or waste your time thinking about.
My good friend Andy was fixing my PC recently, and he noted how many “apps” I had open, even though I wasn’t using them. “Do you realise how much that slows down your PC” he asked.
We are simple humans, but our minds are like our PCs; they are more efficient if we don’t have bits of our processing power thinking about irrelevant nonsense. We need to focus more, and reclaim time from old or mediocre ideas that slow us down.
A to-don’t list is comprised of the things you will not do. That’s ideas percolating in your head that you know are not a good use of your time, yet you’re reluctant to stop thinking about.
Basic things to go on your “To don’t list”
Stop for a few minutes and think about the negative emotions and thoughts that you find distracting. You know, the ones that change your mood so that you stop being as effective as you were.
What are your little triggers that lead you into a spin? One of my “favourites” was listening to the news in the morning on the way to work, I realised how it dragged my mood down. Sitting in the car quietly allowed me to focus on the upcoming day, listening to good mood music lifted me up.
A basic item for my “to don’t list” became, don’t listen to the news in the car. I could choose my news from the ipad before leaving if I wanted, but not just listen. Other basic items might include – DON’T:
- gossip today
- lose my temper today
- spend time thinking about people who annoy me
- ridicule anyone today
- be negative today.
Isn’t this a bit hippy and new age?
Well maybe; but it’s worthwhile. But let move your energy to a ‘work based’ list, rather than those emotional traps..
Upgrade your to don’t list, to become really powerful
Let’s move beyond the very important emotional states that nobody likes to think are relevant and think about the projects and other work items on your action plan.
Making a to-don’t list is simple. List all the projects you’re working on, or thinking of working on. Then ask yourself, for each one:
- Is is essential and / or helpful to growing my business -right now?
- Why is it something I even considered doing?
- Does it make me happy?
- Is it efficient?
- If I were to delay it, not think about it and come back to it in the future, when would that be?
Three simple rules
There are three simple rules for handling items on your to-don’t list:
- You will not work on these ideas
- You will not think about these ideas
- You will not talk about these ideas
Creating a “to don’t list” with your team can help them focus on things you are not doing, and things that they need to stop doing. Even better you give them permission to approach you if they see evidence of you doing things on your ‘to don’t list’.
By not talking about, or thinking about, the ideas, you free that part of your mental energy that was wrapped up with this potential project. You bring clarity to yourself and your team, so you can focus on the projects that matter. By not actively working on your to-don’t list items, you free your time (and your team’s) to be more productive
What’s going on your “to don’t list”?