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10 Suggestions for Your Not To-Do List

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not todo list

Sometimes being more productive is about NOT doing things. After hearing Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, talk about his not to-do list at a startup event, it inspired me to start my own not to-do list.

A not to-do list is exactly what you think it is: a list of things you should not do. It’s a great reminder to keep yourself in check. Rather than trying to do more, sometimes it’s about doing less.

Some people get a better perspective when something is presented in a negative form. For example, instead of thinking “Always check email at 10am” you could reframe it as “Do not check email first thing in the morning”.

After using a not to-do list for a couple weeks, I can say that it has been really effective and I want to share my top 10 not to-do list.

In no particular order:

  1. Do not check email first thing in the morning
  2. Do not try to please everyone
  3. Do not try to get it perfect on first attempt
  4. Do not procrastinate on priorities
  5. Do not go to sleep with unresolved issues
  6. Do not constantly check my phone for notifications
  7. Do not eat junk food on work days
  8. Do not engage in online flame wars
  9. Do not read any negative news
  10. Do not skip my weekly review

Set up your own not to-do list and try to remind yourself of it every day. I look at this list every morning (and it’s one of my desktop backgrounds) to remind myself what not to do.

What’s on your not to-do list?

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8 Comments

Posted by Don Kenner  | May 30, 2015 at 9:22AM | Reply

Love your list! Numbers 7, 8, and 9 should go directly onto my not to-do list.

I don’t think your #1 will work for me, but what the heck; miracles happen.

Posted by Zachary  | February 9, 2014 at 1:14PM | Reply

1. Do not skip meditation.
2. Do not check reddit.com/r/productivity or my analytics more than once a day.
3. Do not deviate from my planned schedule… especially my most important thing.
4. Do not forget to take breaks.
5. Do not touch emails or paper more than once.
6. Do not put off anything that will take less than 2 minutes.
7. Do not say,“I have to”
8. Do not bring electronics into the bedroom.
9. Do not try to form more than one new habit at a time.
10. Do not forget gratitude.
11. Do not put more than 2 links in the comments at AE.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | February 9, 2014 at 11:46PM

Hahaha @ #11

Posted by Eric Sauvageau  | February 10, 2014 at 11:56AM

TOTALLY agree with this one.

Posted by David Ryan  | February 1, 2014 at 5:26AM | Reply

I don’t think I can NOT do those things. lol. But I’ll try.

Posted by Daniel  | January 13, 2014 at 4:20AM | Reply

Nice list, although I’m skeptical about “Do not go to sleep with unresolved issues” — I found that in many cases, a nights sleep help in seeing things differently.

As for additional items, I’d add:

Don’t confuse organizing your todos with doing your todos.

Posted by Kosio Angelov  | January 10, 2014 at 6:59PM | Reply

Great idea to have a do NOT do list…

My DND (in addition to what you already have) would be “don’t spend excessive amounts of time on social media websites” and “do not hit the snooze button”.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | January 11, 2014 at 3:45PM

I like the social media one. I should add that one to my list.

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