To end each day on a great note, it’s more effective to remove the negative & disappointing elements than try to cram in more good. Not-To-Do lists can be a handy tool for understanding what causes frustration and leads to a crappy day. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a list of things you should NOT do. What follows is the list I’ve slowly built up over time to guide my own day.
The Not-To-Do list for a productive day 🔗︎
- Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others.
- Do not multitask. I suck at it.
- Not sure what to work on? Don’t pick up distractions, go sit in silence for a bit and do nothing.
- Ignore the news. Staying up to date hasn’t helped me in any way. If it’s important, people will tell me about it.
- Don’t check phone constantly. Ideally, less than once an hour. No bad will come from people having to wait a couple hours to hear back from me.
- Don’t constantly check email. Would be great to get this down to once a week.
- In the morning, avoid all forms of messaging which could cause distractions until I’ve completed at least 1 thing requiring concentrating. Ideally that 1 thing is enough to make the whole day feel successful, adjust expectations if needed.
- Similar to above, avoid messaging around bed time so I don’t get all wired up right before I need to sleep.
- No answering calls from unrecognized numbers. If it matters, they’ll leave a voicemail.
- Watch as little TV as you can each month. Make it a challenge to see how low you can go.
- Don’t eat in front of the TV.
- Don’t prematurely optimize. This shows up in many forms, so be careful, it can sneak up on you. For example, if you’re just trying out drawing, you don’t need “best way to draw fast” and wasting hours searching and doing nothing. Just go do it. If something sticks around in your life as a hobby, then you can spend time & money to get better at it.
- Ensure all meetings have start & end times & a PURPOSE. Open ended meetings are a time suck and will expand to your whole day.
- Don’t waste time ruminating on things outside of my control. Concentrate on what I can control.
- Time is precious, don’t waste it on silly stuff
. At 25 I’m a time billionaire
, don’t squander it focused on crap.
- Mindlessly reading & absorbing information in a pretense of productivity. Just because the material seems more useful than ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ doesn’t mean I’m actually getting anything out of it.
If the idea of a Not-To-Do list intrigues you, it’s important to understand it is not a silver bullet on it’s own. I think of it like creating a list of goals you want to achieve, but they aren’t actionable. You care about doing them, but without a plan to make it happen they will stay as wishful thinking. Use the Not-To-Do list to guide the habits you attempt to form, and then you’ll start to see the list become a reality. For tools to help with forming good habits or breaking bad ones, Atomic Habits
is a fantastic source.