The “Not-To-Do” List

Not-To-Do Lists…

After yesterday’s note on being busy vs. productive, a number of people asked questions about the “not-to-do” list. So here’s a bit more information:

What is it, exactly?

It’s just a list of things *not* to do during that day. For me, it’s usually 3-4 things, and I put them right next to my real to-do list.

What type of things go on this “not-to-do” list?

Generally, everything in the RED quadrant below…

Stuff that isn’t urgent, not so important, and doesn’t need to be done today. (May include some blue box items too)

An example:

I have to make 10 sales calls today. That’s priority #1. But as I sit here looking around my office, I’m noticing that my desk needs some tidying up, I’ve got a library book to return, and my Aunt’s birthday is next month so I should probably google some good gift ideas.

“Procrastination is the thief of time”

Hang on a sec! Desk cleaning can wait, the library book isn’t due until next week, and my wife can figure out a gift for my Aunt! These are items I definitely *shouldn’t* do today because they don’t move me any closer towards making my 10 sales calls. These go on the not-to-do list.

Other stuff I sometimes add:

  • Don’t check the stock market constantly. It’s a waste of time.
  • That iPhone app everyone’s talking about… Now is NOT the time to download it and play around with it.
  • Don’t answer calls from xyz today, it leads to long conversations
  • No complaining
  • No gossiping
  • Limit social media or reading the news (until after work is done)

Does a Not-to-do list work?

Try it and find out! Might sound silly, but just the simple act of writing things down gets them out of your head and into a physical playbook for the day. Good luck and have fun with whatever you are doing today! – Joel

*Quadrant pic credit to Urgent-Important Matrix by Theo Gkitsos. Cheers!