4 Secrets to Creating a Don’t-Do List

Today we’re going to talk about a topic that is seldom discussed, but critically important to have a successful day – the secrets to creating a “don’t do” list!

If you’re anything like me or most of my friends, you have a to-do list that is filled with a LOT of tasks that are urgent like “pick up prescription” and then tasks that aren’t time sensitive/urgent (like “get car washed”).

Mixing short term projects for home with work to do items and mixing urgent with non urgent tasks…all creates a long to do list that never gets done – can you relate?

Why it’s essential to create a “don’t do” list

One of the big secrets here is to create a “not to do” list. Once you accept that you have more things to do than you can possibly do, it’s very liberating to acknowledge that there are in fact things you can’t or won’t do. These will go on your “not to do” list so you can prioritize your to-do list and actually get things done! This article will help you remove those non essential tasks, put them on your not to do list and commit to letting them go.

Today we are discussing the secrets to help you get more out of your daily routine and to do lists. Instead of starting each day or week off with a long, never ending to do list that will never get done, today we’re going in a different direction that will help you live a happier, more fulfilling life by making a list of what you’re not going to do.

So get a pen and paper ready, and let’s get started making your “Don’t-Do” List.

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Don’t Do List Tip #1 Know Your Values

The first secret to effective to do lists and knowing whether something is a “don’t do” is to ask yourself: “Does this align with my values?”

A lot of little things you do each day may take your time and energy….but not really be important to you. Usually these are the things we don on autopilot and don’t even think about them. Today it’s time to give yourself permission to re-examine each thing. Part of this may involve re-establishing a boundary around certain things

For example, have your work colleagues come to expect that you are going to be texting and emailing each night when you are home and after work hours? Are you working all night after you leave work and constantly stressed out? Or need to schedule some clear work free hours so you are taking care of yourself and having some much needed down time? If you’re stressed and not doing this, you will eventually burn out as it’s a poor self care strategy.

Deciding what’s most important to you is the first thing you need to do to start your Don’t-Do List. If you are spending time and energy on things that aren’t important to you, come up with ways you can get out of doing them.

Don’t Do List Tip #2 Avoid “Energy Vampires”

One key to being effective during your daily routine is avoiding people that take away your energy. We call them “energy vampires” because just like regular vampires they suck you energy from you, both emotional and physical. It’s a funny image, huh?

But unfortunately, if you think of work colleagues, friends, acquaintances or even family members who leave you feeling like the energy has been drained from your body.

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Maybe they are too negative and trash talk everyone and criticize everything around you.

And guess what…that saps your motivation, energy and even your pleasant mood.

So it helps to come up with ways to avoid these people or minimize your exposure to them. There is a way to do this with out being rude, in case you’re worried about what they will think.

Take a minute and write down a few actions you can take to avoid these people without being rude.

Don’t Do List Tip #3 Eliminate tasks with a Low Return On Investment (ROI)

So we are starting to change the way we think about our to-do list. Every item you add to your to-do list has a return on investment (ROI). In other words, what is the effort and what is the reward?

Have you ever been caught up in thinking “I’m the only person who can do this.” Can you relate?

But in reality, this type of thinking just makes us get exhausted and eventually get burned out. Take a look at your current task list and carefully examine what items will improve your life? What can only you uniquely take care of?

Are there things you can outsource to others? For example, do you need to cut your own grass or can you hire a neighbor’s kid to do it for you? Apply this same lens to all the items on your list. It will free up time that you can spend with people you love, doing things you enjoy

Don’t Do List Tip #4 What Tasks Can you Automate?

This is related to #3 above. Take a close look at recurrent tasks. Go ahead and look at your calendar and your tasks. There are likely a whole bunch of things that are recurring, repetitive tasks. Things like:

  1. Picking up prescription medicine refills
  2. Grocery Shopping (especially if you have little ones at home)
  3. Other household items you often re-order on a regular basis (e.g. shampoo, soap, household cleaning)
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For prescriptions, you might be able to contact your pharmacy or your medical plan and arrange to either have the medicines on a 90 day reorder (which will reduce your drugstore trips from 12 per year to 4 per year), or you may also be able to arrange mail delivery so you don’t have to go to the pharmacy at all. Either way, you will be taking a very routine, unimportant task and freeing up many hours of your time.

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For grocery and household shopping you can also automate many things. For example, if you’re ordering things on a recurring basis (like shampoo, household cleaning products, baby products, etc.), you can use Amazon’s “subscribe and save” feature. If you’re not already a member of Amazon Price, you can try a FREE Amazon Prime 30 day Trial and see for yourself just how much time you can save by automating the things on your “don’t do” list.

And for groceries, you can try a FREE TRIAL of Amazon Fresh and get unlimited grocery delivery. That will free up dozens of hours of your life this year.


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