Many times what you do not do is far more important than what you do do. Most people have tried challenging themselves with a to-do list but have you experienced the benefits of a not-to-do list?
A not-to-do list is a list of habits that you intentionally set out to stop doing. Like a to-do list, you get an orderly list of items for reviewing but unlike a to-do list, you only get to check items off when you have not done those items in a predetermined amount of time. My not-to-list is below (I arbitrarily picked a two weeks as my challenge time limit but you can pick how ever much time you want.)
A Not-To-Do List (Time Challenge of Two Weeks)
The goal with my not-to-do list was to not do any of the following items for two weeks. I succeeded and all of these have started to become healthy habits for me.
- Do not use passive aggressive behavior to avoid saying no (This was the hardest item on my list. Many times a direct “no” is the best answer but not the easiest.)
- Do not back down if you feel like you are leaving your comfort zone (It is impossible to grow if you you don’t make yourself uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean you need to post a naked picture of yourself in a wig onto the Internet but it does mean you should venture out from your normal behavior.)
- Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers (They can go to voicemail.)
- Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time (This was my favorite on the list. If you outwardly value your own time, others will follow.)
- Do not let negative people dominate your time (This is the most important item on the list. If someone is repeatedly negative, stop spending time with them. Life is too short.)
- Do not depriortize your friends and family (Many times the people closest to you are the easiest to deprioritize simply because you know they will understand. This is a dangerous trap as eventually enough time will pass where you stop being close.)
- Do not schedule tasks for every day of the week (I picked Saturday as my day for no assigned tasks. It was amazing how much of an impact this had on my week.)
- Do not underestimate the power of walking (After making walking an important part of my daily routine, I consider walking a modern day wonder treatment.)
- Do not check e-mail constantly (Batch e-mail instead. I aim to check my important e-mail only once a day and my less important e-mail every other day.)
- Do not put off practicing proactive gratitude (I had “spend five minutes actively being grateful” on my to-do list for months but never put it into practice until I added it in reverse to my not-to-do list.)
- Do not watch or read the news (Most of the news is negative and everything else that is important will eventually make its way to you.)