Hackernoon logoWhy You Need A NOT-To-Do List by@poornima

Why You Need A NOT-To-Do List

Poornima Vijayashanker Hacker Noon profile picture

Poornima Vijayashanker


We’ve all got our daily to-do lists, and no matter how many to-dos we cross off at the end of the day, there’s just one more around the corner that is eager to jump on to it…

…and that might just be the one that puts you into a state of overwhelm!

I don’t know about you, but around this time of the year, I have a hard time motivating myself to do more than 50% of the items on my daily to-do list. Sure there are some tasks that I love doing daily, like going to yoga and studying French and Spanish on Duolingo.

The rest I’ve gotta do because I committed to doing them, and I want to stick to my commitments. It makes me feel better when I follow through on them, rather than being a flake or leaving things half-baked.

So whenever I’m tempted to add another item to my to-do list, I take a moment to ask myself, “Is this really worth my time?” And, “What could I be doing instead?”

It has lead me to the realization that I need to create a daily NOT to-do list.

The benefits of a NOT-to-do list are immense

  1. The most obvious benefit is that you don’t have to worry about your to-do list growing, goodbye overwhelm!
  2. You can focus on getting stuff done that you’ve already committed to, thereby actually shrinking your to-do list.
  3. You’ve documented all the NOT to-do items, they will be right where you left them, and you can revisit them later, much much later!
  4. You cause people to re-think how valuable your time is and appreciate your follow through. There is no harm in letting people know that you care about the commitments you’ve already got, and you’d be happy to take a look at new opportunities once you’re done with what’s on your plate.

What’s on my NOT-to-do list

  • #1 is no new projects until January 2017 or even brainstorming new projects! Brainstorming is fun and exciting but it just creates a bunch of research and to-dos.
  • #2 is no new meetings until January 2017. I’ve frozen my calendar both professionally and personally, because what comes out of a meeting? Action-items… i.e. more to-dos!

I know the 8 weeks will fly by, and I want to do my best work during that time. To do that I don’t want to feel like I’ve stretched myself by overcommitting, and then scrambling to get things done.

What are you putting on your NOT to-do list for the rest of the year?

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