The To-Do list is considered by some to be the most crucial part of your productivity arsenal. It’s certainly important and at Think Productive we certainly extol it’s virtues.
I’ve started looking at implementing another list though. This list is the absolute opposite of the To-Do List.
I’ve started working on my Stop Doing List.
I know, it sounds bonkers right? In many ways you may be right, but hear me out.
We’ve all got intentions right? Good intentions, things that we want to do, projects and actions that need to be completed if we are going to reach those lofty goals? We want to be happy, the majority of us want to achieve some measure of success, we have a desire and requirement to be healthy - all good things, filled with positive purpose.
Focusing on actions that we need to do to achieve those intentions is important, yet I feel that sometimes I will develop some positive momentum by concentrating on things that I need to stop doing.
I know how to set goals, I’ve got the art of developing positive habits pretty much nailed, I review weekly as I should do and I’m able to split time between my work and family reasonably well. When it comes to the positive actions, I’m all good. (I certainly hope so anyway, I coach this stuff!)
What I need to concentrate on now is those roadblocks that slow me down. Think of it like driving a car. I’m at the wheel of my ‘productivity’ car and I know how to drive it like a pro. I’ve got all the tricks, I know the shortcuts to get around town. Every now and then, something appears that blocks the road, or slows me down like a traffic jam. It could be a bad habit I’ve developed or a project I’ve taken on that I should have declined. I need to identify these areas of my life and work to reduce the negative impact they have on me achieving my intentions. (I know I’m using the word intentions a lot, I just find it so much more energetic than plans or goals. More personal).
I’ve decided that I’m going to see if what I stop doing is going to have as significant an impact as what I start doing.
As part of my weekly review, I’m going to look back on the last week and identify areas that truly sucked. No-one has a perfect week, there are going to be things there. I’m fortunate enough that one of my daily habits is journaling so all I need to do is go through my Day One entries and identify these ‘road-blocks’. I also add two extra questions to each project that I have stored in OmniFocus. They are simple ones.
Do I Want To Do This?
Does My Family Need Me To Do This?
If one of those answers is a Hell Yes, it stays. If the answer to both is a Hell No, it’s on the Stop Doing List.
Ruthless - yes. Effective - hell yes.
Here’s an example of the additions to my Stop Doing List from last week.
1) Stop looking at Twitter before 9am in the morning.
2) Stop buying a bag of delicious Pret A Manger Rock Salt Popcorn for the commute home from London every day
3) Stop logging into Skype For Business first thing when arriving at the office. Don’t you realise people are waiting to see your status change to Green (you’ve all been there)
4) Reject the writing offer.
5) Delete Injustice 2 from your iPhone. It’s a great game but you aren’t strong enough to resist it’s lure when you should be reading. 6) Stop having your phone on hand when with the girls before bed. Give them your full attention, they deserve it.
Each of those is going to help me work towards the intentions I have set, be they related to health, family or business.
Doing by not doing - why didn’t I know about this before?!