I am one of those people who gets excited by new ideas, is interested in many different subjects and thinks he can do more than is actually possible given the time available.
“To Do” lists come naturally to me. I like to organise what I have to do and feel in control once I have a schedule worked out. The problem with my “To Do” lists is that they are too long, that items are regularly carried over from one list to the next and the list is (virtually) never completed.
This has two main effects. Firstly, I lose focus by trying to handle too many tasks in a short time; I pursue a large number of goals and reach few of them, at the expense of selecting a few goals and achieving more.
Secondly, seeing the list of unfinished items on the list at the end of each day or week acts as a demotivator. Instead of thinking about the progress made and enjoying it, I often worry about what still remains to do. Celebrating achievements is a healthy thing to do, and a motivation to tackle the next set of challenges with thoughtfulness and vigour. Of course some weeks the achievements may not be worth celebrating due to internal or external factors. But my balance is wrong when I nearly always rush on to doing, or worrying about, what needs to be done next.
So I am going to be more selective, putting “To Don’t” against things on my lists, or better still deciding “To Don’t” before they even reach the list.
I will follow up this post with ways I find “To Don’t”, how they help to focus on important tasks and my success or failure in using them. This will help me on my aim to do less things better and hopefully it may help or interest you as you read it.
Now I am not personally against “To Do” lists, although some people think they stifle creativity – there is a good explanation of why on this blog post from the Coding Horror site. For me, they can be very helpful in avoiding missing important tasks, in deciding on priorities and in separating important and urgent tasks so that you can allocate time to each. However, to be used well they need to be carefully written and manageable. My “To Don’t”s are designed to improve my lists as well as the way I tackle tasks.
Please look out for future posts on “To Don’t” with the hashtag #ToDont. I will not be trying to create a “To Don’t” list – that would just grow into another set of things that you and I cannot tackle all at once. Instead the posts will be ideas that I am trying out and that you might want to as well. Be selective in advice from me or others. If it inspires you, try it out and see if it fits your situation. Then make sure you bed it into your lifestyle and workstyle. As with “To Do”, we shouldn’t try “To Don’t” too much at once.