Whether you love or hate making lists, every now and then we all need a to-do list in order to stay on top of things. But what if instead, we made a not-to-do list of tasks that drain us, stress us or are plainly unnecessary — tasks we could not do that would then allow us to focus on things that actually matter. Creating such a list will identify low-value tasks and anything we want to systematically eliminate to increase our productivity and time management or simply help us have more free time and lead happier lives.

How to start a not-to-do list

First, allow yourself some uninterrupted retrospection time. Grab a pencil, turn to a new page and start by analyzing your tasks from previous months. Identify which tasks have the biggest impact on your future and how much added value you are creating by performing these tasks. Don’t forget to note how you feel when you are performing the tasks and whether you have to do them because you feel obligated and didn’t know how to say no.

Pictured here: Azure journal

Some examples of items on the list

Things that are out of your control

Systematic bad habits that you want to eliminate

Everything that’s considered a distraction from staying productive

Other people’s responsibilities

Small projects that might be in the way of bigger and more important ones

Those tasks that drain your energy, have low value or distract you from your goals are the ones that go on the not-to-do list. Don’t feel bad writing your list! It’s okay to say no, it’s healthy to set boundaries and it’s perfectly acceptable not to do things. What kind of items would you recommend for our not-to-do lists? We’d love to hear what you have to add. Let us know in the comments!

Pictured here: Floralia sketchbook and 2022 Concord Planner


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