I just finished listening to the audiobook of Good to Great by James Collins and I ran across this concept. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love me a good list. I write them out by hand – which I also love doing – and the one I create the most, is the To Do list. I write them up almost daily. So when the book talked (very) briefly about a list of things to stop doing (I can’t remember if James actually used the phrase “To Don’t List” but it makes so much sense to call it that, I’ll give him credit for it anyway) I kind of sat up and wondered why I hadn’t thought of doing that before.
The first reason that came to mind was that it could easily turn into a bunch of negative self talk. It’s not that difficult to spot, really. Every day, you write down a list of things that you think you’re doing wrong. But that’s not what the To Don’t list is for.
First, I don’t think you’re meant to write it every day. I also don’t think that this is something you’re going to bang out in a few minutes. The To Don’t list requires thought. It requires you to reflect on how you’ve been spending your time, consider the things you want to achieve, and to figure out where you can carve out time to work on those things.
The world isn’t going to create time for you. Not ever. So, in order to get to those things that you want to do, you’re going to have to carve out time for yourself. How? That’s where the To Don’t list comes into play. The To Don’t list is a list of things that you’re currently doing which, if you stopped doing them, would free up time for the other things you want to do.
Mindless scrolling through Socials, procrastination, not asking for help or delegating tasks, creating busy work for yourself, I could go on and on.
Cutting back on, or simply stopping engaging in those activities will free up the time for you to get started on those things that you really want to do, but don’t have “The Time” to do.
Now this sounds like a one-and-done list, but it’s not. It probably won’t change every day, but I figure that looking over the list, say every six months, would be beneficial. You’ll probably find things on the list that you’re no longer doing, so you can remove them from the list, as well as maybe finding stuff that might need to be added to the list.
The more I think about this idea, the more I like it. Not as a means of dragging myself down, but as a gentle reminder keep my focus on the important stuff.
Thanks for reading. Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other – and yourself.
I’ll see you on Thursday.
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