Hands up who’s sick of to-do lists? If you haven’t tried them – don’t. I have actually suggested them in the past, but only ever in specific circumstances. In general I think to do lists are keeping us in a hamster wheel forever, reminding us that the work is never done, that we’re always on the go, and adding to our stress.
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Task 1: Avoid the pitfalls
A list of things that you shouldn’t do? Sounds great. There is, however, the danger that you’ll inadvertently set yourself up for failure if you’re not careful.
General wisdom is not to focus on what you don’t want. The way energy and the law of attraction works is that you’ll attract what you give most energy to. So the danger is to put a lot of energy into this list, which will lead to you getting things you’re trying to avoid.
Task 2: Why you need a To-Don’t List
So why create a To-Don’t List at all? There are a few good reasons.
- It helps you to set boundaries. You may know that you don’t want to spend time with a certain annoying colleague (or even relative). One day you’re overwhelmed, lots going on, and they spring an invite on you. Before you know it, you’ve said yes.
- It nudges you when you’re about to go wrong. How many times do we end up focusing on what doesn’t light us up? If you have in writing what you definitely don’t want to waste energy on, you’ll remember much more easily when it’s about to happen, and can course-correct.
- It helps you make decisions. If you write down things you don’t want to spend time on, every time you’re faced with a “do I go to that event/meeting/workshop” kind of question, check it against your To-Don’t List. If it resembles any item there, use your time for something that lights you up instead.