The Not To Do List


The Not To Do List

A to do list provides direction. The tasks guide you to where you want to go.

At it essence, a to do list is a set of daily actions that drive you forward.

Even the best to do lists only focus on positive behaviours. They point to behaviours that drive you towards your goal.

But, how often do you think about what to avoid to achieve success?

The actions, habits and things you that will hold you back or lead you into trouble.

Enter the Not To Do List.

The idea is simple.

A Not To Do List is a dynamic set of actions that you are focused on avoiding in the present. It helps you cut things out of your life that don’t matter, so you can spend more time, effort and focus on the things that do.

“Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do."
- Tim Ferriss

Not To Do Lists simplify your life, creating space for the things that are important.

Create your own Not To Do List

I’ve found two different methods that have helped me create my Not To Do List.

The thought experiment

The first method is a thought experiment. Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, learned this from one of his college professors.

Later today, you receive two phone calls:

1. In the first call, you learn that you’ve inherited $20 million, with no strings attached.
2. In the second call, due to a rare and incurable disease, you only have 10 years left to live.

After receiving these calls, what would you stop doing?

It gets you to focus on what really matters in life.

The time tracker

The second method is more practical.

Step 1 - Track

Track all of your tasks and actions for one week. Understand what you’re spending your time on.

Use tracking tools like Toogl, Harvest or Forest.

Step 2 - Review

Find a quiet spot at the end of the week and review your tracking.

Think about the tasks or actions that drive you towards your goals. How much time did you spend doing them?

Score your results out of 10 based on importance.

Step 3 - XDS

Use your scores to eliminate, delegate or systemize (or automate) your tasks.

  • Scores 1-3 = Eliminate these tasks.
  • Scores 4-7 = Delegate or systemize (or automate) these tasks.
  • Scores 8-10 = These are the tasks you should be focusing. Block out time every week to work on them. And stick to it.

Congrats, you’ve create version 1 of your Not To Do List.

Keep this list in front of you during the course of the day. When you successfully avoid, delegate or systemise the actions on your list, check them off.

My Not To Do List

  1. Looking at your phone first thing in the morning
  2. Answering calls from unknown numbers
  3. Constantly checking emails and messages
  4. Drinking coffee after 14.00
  5. Complaining about anything
  6. Always saying yes
  7. ‘Grazing’ on low value tasks
  8. Taking calls and videos without an agenda or purpose
  9. Posting content on social media