I have (pick whichever you like):
A type-A personality.
A need for constant productivity.
A habit of hyper-focusing on my projects.
And… An obsession with daily to-do lists. Or, more accurately, an obsession with completing my daily to-do lists.
I think these personality traits and habits have always served me very well in life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything but a box of the freshest glazed donut holes.
That being told, I also have (pick whichever you like):
The tendency to let bad habits creep in and muck up my productivity.
A hundred different shows on my TV “watch” lists.
Just as much ability as anyone else to get sucked into social media.
And these things always muck up my super-focused, super-awesome, super-productive ways of doing things. Eventually.
I’d say maybe every 6 months or so, I get to the end of several days in a row, and I realize that somewhere… Somehow… I haven’t been getting as much done as I’d like. Or I haven’t been getting much done at all. Or I haven’t gotten anything done.
What’s worse is that when I realize that, I also think about the next day and tend to want to shrug off the cognizant reality that I’ll probably be doing more of the same nothing tomorrow.
Whenever I get to that point, which I did a couple nights ago, I try to force myself into doing something I started doing several years back. I put my entire to-do list on the back-burner, and I put only one thing on a to-do list for the next day. Start a new list: my "NOT To-Do” list.
Of course, sometimes the next day comes and I push it to the day after that. And sometimes even the day after that. But eventually I declare to myself that enough is enough, and I sit down and make my list of things not to do.
The deeper I feel stuck in my counter-productive state, the longer I make the items on the list last before I can go back to my regular to-do listing. Sometimes my not to-do list is something I’ll dedicate myself to for a week. Sometimes a few days. Sometimes longer. Right now I’m in need of a solid week of not doing quite a few certain things.
What’s a NOT to-do list you might ask? Good question. I’m glad I asked myself.
A NOT to-do list is a list of all the things that have slowly crept into my life and are affecting me in ways that aren’t helpful, be they mental, emotional, or physical.
For example, right now I’ve been spending way too much time working from the comfort of my bed. So…
I also have been skipping the gym, and since I know that doing a few push-ups right when I wake up every morning will help put me more in the workout mindset later…
Of course, a poor diet always seems to become part of my sluggishness. So…
And, just to be safe…
Once I get started on my not-to-do list, it gets easier and easier to think of things I’ve been doing (or not doing) that have brought the current lull into my life…
Of course, there are always other things. Much more personal things that I know I’ve been doing or thinking. Such as…
And more. Usually quite a few things more in that section of my list.
So there you have it. Instead of a to-do list, a list of things NOT to do. Try it! NOT to-do lists, they do wonders.
I never get to the end of them without being cranked-up and ready to go in life.
I always finish them and feel more positive, more happy, and more ready to take on anything the world will throw at me.
And one of the best parts? I immediately start getting so much more done. I don’t have to wait until my week of NOT to-dos is done. Things just start getting done automatically because I’m immediately eliminating all the things that have been keeping me from gettin’ stuff DONE.
And that’s just one of my little tricks for returning to the version of me that is productive and motivated in pretty much all areas of life. My week started today. Anyone wanna join me?
Dan Pearce | The Single Dad Laughing Blog
PS. Comment! What do you need to add to tomorrow’s NOT to-do list?