The not to do list

We are all familiar with the ‘to do’ list but the lesser known family member of this famous list, the ‘not to do’ list is also valuable. 

I recently asked a range of trusted friends to share what is top of their not to do list.  I was inspired and intrigued by the answers and feel lucky to have such wise and practical people in my life.  

These are not listed in any particular order. They all have merit and provoke thought.  

NOT to do list! 

  • Put things off until tomorrow if they can be done today
  • Go against or ignore your gut feeling
  • Give yourself a hard time
  • Hold on to things
  • Live in the past
  • Let others impact you
  • Forget to eat
  • Choose the easiest option (always choose the best option!)
  • Be untrue to you
  • Think you know best all the time
  • Worry about small things or things you have no control over
  • Ignore the value of close friends or let them down
  • Regret traveling
  • Be mean or disrespectful to others
  • Neglect your family
  • Be afraid to ask for help or advice
  • Lie to yourself, others or your children
  • Spend unnecessary time with people that annoy you or drain your energy
  • Have negative conversations in your head
  • Use your phone when out socialising or in meetings. It gives the message to who you’re with that the phone is more important than they are!
  • Misplace your keys
  • Judge others (or yourself)
  • Stay in situations that you don’t need to be in if there is aggravation involved
  • Argue with people who feel they are always right
  • Stand on a weighing scale
  • Go to bed without washing your face
  • Give advice not asked for (think how much you don’t like listening to it from others)
  • Gossip or listen to gossip
  • Over analyse
  • Believe everything you hear
  • Ignore the heart’s need for fun
  • Walk the same path everyday
  • Have to be right

Generally, not to do lists center around two key areas:

  1. Reducing the time or energy spent doing things that are less important or add negative, little or no meaningful value to your life and 
  2. Not neglecting the truly important people and things that bring joy and meaning.

There are 168 hours in the week. We all have the same amount of time.  When you spend it with people and doing things you value, you will feel good and energised. If you spend it doing things that drain or irritate you, your sense of purpose and drive will reduce, and frustration will come.  There is never any benefit to spending time thinking thoughts or having conversations that hurt yourself or others.   

In modern life, many of us get into the habit of being ‘busy being busy’. The constant weapons of mass distraction that surround us can have us rushing around without getting where we want to go. Look at the negative and lower value ways in which you are spending your time (watching tv and other screen time, staying up late) and energy.   

The list from friends also highlighted the importance of having systems in place to take care of routine matters (where you leave your keys etc.) and not doing things if they demoralize you (standing on the scales for one person!).   

What would you like to put on your ‘not to do list’? Writing it down and acting on it will free-up time, energy and space for what is truly important for you. 

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