I’ve always been a proponent of to-do lists; they often help me get started and then make me keep going. As a “recovering gaming addict” they’re especially helpful. They are my achievements, my milestones and levelling if you like. Especially when managing and working with several startups and projects, it helps to stay organized and work on the things that matters.
However, what I somewhat subconciously realized is that I had over time created a NOT-to-do list, which in many ways has been vital to my success and productivity. It started out as just something I was thinking about — but, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog, the true power comes from writing things down.
When I only had these NOT-to-do items in my head then they were fractured; popping in and out on an irregular basis. I was not accountable to them, and more often than not I only reacted to them on a retrospective (“Captain Hindsight”) basis.
So, I took the time to more specifically pinpoint the “NOT-to-do’s”, and it had dramatic effect as it allowed me to have much more time for my actual to-do’s.
If you are feeling that you’re unable to complete your to-do list or generally seek to become more productive, then seek to challenge yourself on the things you should NOT do.
What it essentially is, is focusing on minimising the negatives as opposed to maximising the positives — and through that process you will in fact end up with having more time to focus on the positives. But, addressing the negatives first is likely to have a more profound impact.
Supposedly, the well-known author and investor, Tim Ferris, also advocates for a NOT-to-do list; simply putting it as: “what you do not do dictates what you can do.”
For me, the NOT-to-do list included things such as:
- Don’t do meetings with no clear agenda
- Don’t say yes to everything
- Do not waste time on social media (I’ve cover that in more detail here)
What would be on your NOT-to-do list?
Overall, it helps because by taking an active approach to addressing the activities that do not correspond to your greater goals. As with a normal to-do list; make them into actionable steps that are attainable. It’s all about prioritising what is important. And an anti-list can help us find the underlying issues at play, which will among others help you avoid living a regretful life and make every day count.
Be sure to also check out: Don’t Pursue the Wrong Goals.
While we are addressing NOT-to-do lists in this article in terms of work and productivity, you can apply it to other walks of life as you see fit; whether it be unhealthy habits or other areas you seek to improve.
That’s it folks. Hope you find this brief blog posts valuable. Take care, and see if a NOT-to-do list can have a positive impact on your life.