You spend time to make sure you spend your time well. You make lists. You calendar, rearrange, and jostle appointments all jockeying for placement. Yet somehow you find you still aren't as productive as you'd like to be.
Could it be there is something wrong with the traditional "To-Do" list?
The answer is an emphatic yes.
To-Do lists have a counterpart, the "Not-To-Do" List, or as I call it affectionately the "To-Don't" list! If you're not aware of just how much your "To-Don't" list is running your life, you will have a hard time finding time!
The "To-Don't" list comes in 2 forms, both invisible, and both having the capability of helping your manage your life, or taking that life from you. Let's look at both of them.
"The Invisible Sabateur" To-Don't List
This sneaky little devil hides right on the front-page of your to-do list. It's those things you put on your to-do list that you know in your heart you have no intention of ever doing. Or at least of ever doing today! Yet you put them there because, well, you should do them, right?
These little time-stealers work against you in two ways. First of all, they puff-up your To-Do list and make you feel like you really have a lot of things to do - an ego boost to be sure. But they also steal from you emotionally, draining your vitality as they beckon to you. "Na na! Na na! We're never getting done!" they scream. So you feel guilty, and that's counterproductive.
Secondly, they crowd out the really important items. Your To-Do list should be clean, simple, focused, and only contain items you are going to do today (or whatever time-frame you choose for your list).
Things that you really "should do" but never in your heart intend to do belong on your To-Don't list. Not on the invisible To-Don't list hiding on your To-Do list.
"The Genuinely Helpful To-Don't List"
Besides the invisible To-Don't list, you should also have a real "To Don't" list. On this list will be all the things we discussed above, plus items that you really want done by someone else.
You have to be realistic, brutal, and honest, but many items on your To-Do list don't belong there at all. Instead, they belong on other people's To-Do Lists.
Find the courage to delegate, and don't be afraid to reach out to others for support on tasks you realistically can't or won't ever do.
So create your To-Don't List, and take it out for a spin. Be real with it, and you'll have more time for the things that really matter.
"He [Mike] is above excellent"
-S. Militello, Santa Ana, CA.