To Do Lists vs Not To Do Lists

It’s one thing to focus on priorities, or the proverbial “what needs to be done” however, it’s just as important (if not more so) to focus on tasks that need to be avoided. Then: Avoid them!

Understanding there are tasks that need to be avoided: then doing just that, allows one the ability to both remain or increase one’s focus in accomplishing the most important priorities at hand.

In today’s world of “productivity enhancers” one thing they seem to have more in common than ever before is the ability to distract attention away from what one should be doing with a feeling of pseudo accomplishment.

Busy work is just that, “busy.” Just because you’re checking your email or your social network status for the trillionth time before coffee accomplishes squat. Sitting still and taking time to think and plan mentally in that same time period many times is far, far, far, (did I say far?) more effective for productivity.

If you’ve had issues with getting tasks done, or even making a list then following it, try this and see if it yields tangible results you can actually benefit from.

Instead of writing 10 things you need to get done today or tomorrow, try writing down just ONE. That’s not a typo.

Write down “the” most important thing you need to get done where you will not end your day without accomplishing. Something that once accomplished or completed would give you satisfaction and help move you forward in what ever your quest. Then…

Write down ONE disrupting, time draining, distraction you do during the day.

Write it in bold letters in a place where it will remind you too not do it! e.g., Put a large note right next to your keyboard or a sticky on your phone as to curb impulsively checking emails, social networks, playing games, etc. Something you know you do that if you changed your habits: the world would not spin-off its axis. e.g., If someone “Likes” you in the morning, I’ll bet they’ll still like you by the PM. And if not, they really didn’t care to begin with so forget about them and get busy liking yourself getting things accomplished.

Emails can be checked on a scheduled time. i.e., Once in the morning, then noon, then mid afternoon. (Of course unless you’re on-call but again, you check “who” then if not a priority message, you don’t even open it till your designated time. And for some of the others, do I really need to even explain?

Start with this simple idea and premise first. Try it for at least 14 days. Go through the withdrawals, then reassess whether to expand or to adjust. You just might find you’ll get far more done by focusing on what not to do than trying to do everything in a substandard manner, all because you’ve been distracted with looking busy rather than actually accomplishing.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr