The ‘Not-To-Do’ List, Why You Should Have One, and What Should Be On It

You’ve probably read about the ‘to-do’ list, and how having one can result in better productivity, improved relationships and a greater sense of well-being. However, were you aware that the ‘not-to-do’ list can also bring you a host of benefits? Making the following fifteen commitments to yourself on a daily basis can make a big difference to your life.

1) Say No to Instant Notifications

Ask yourself: do you really need to know the instant you get an email, text or tweet? Because the more you are a slave to instant notifications, the less able you will be to focus 100% of your attention on the task at hand. Instant notifications may appear to be convenient at first, but over time, your schedule becomes set by others.

2) Ban Blaming

Everyone’s heard of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. But what about choosing personal responsibility? This kind of CPR involves taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming other people. Things happen – employees will make mistakes, deliveries may not arrive on time, and customers may neglect to sign important documents. When these things happen, ask yourself if there was anything you could have done better to avoid them, and then focus on doing things smarter or better next time. The smarter and better you get, the happier you will be.

3) Don’t Attach Yourself to Your Device

If you want to be the kind of person that makes people feel as though they’re the most important person in the world when you’re talking to them, then it’s time to stop checking your phone. These days, everyone has seemed to stop paying attention to what’s happening around them. However, you don’t have to be one of them. Stop checking your phone, and not only will other people feel better about you – you will feel better about yourself.

4) Stop Multitasking During Meetings

If you want to be the smartest person in the room, the easiest way is to be the person who pays the most attention to the room. You’ll surprise yourself when you realize how much you can learn, both about the meeting’s topic and the attendees when you stop multitasking and focus your attention. You’ll flush out and understand hidden agendas, you’ll spot opportunities to build bridges, and you’ll find ways to make yourself indispensable to the people who matter.

5) No More Interrupting

Interrupting isn’t just rude; it’s hurtful. When you interrupt someone, what you’re telling them is that you’re only listening to them so you can decide what you want to say. Listening and focus is necessary for every successful conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to increase understanding.

6) Don’t Whine, Feel Better

We all know that our words have power, but sometimes we forget that our words can have just as much an impact on us as they do on others. When you whine about your problems, you feel worse. Moreover, why do that when you can put that effort into making the situation better? Change that negative talk about what’s wrong into positive talk about how you are going to improve things.

7) Don’t Hang Onto The Past

Many of us let our past control our future by dwelling on the mistakes we’ve made.  Learning from those errors and then letting them go is where it’s at. Everything that goes wrong can be turned into an opportunity to learn about others and yourself. The past cannot be changed, and you can choose whether or not it defines who you are today.

8) Stop Waiting for Guarantees

If you wait until you’re convinced you will succeed, you will never get anywhere. No one can be sure of success when they’re starting something new, but he or she can commit to doing their best. Hand in hand with this is being willing to try again if you fail. You don’t have as much to lose as you think, and much more to gain that you suspect.

9) Give Up Gossiping

Not only is gossiping a negative activity; it can steal your focus. If Bob is doing something that you don’t like, talk to Bob about it; not the whole office. The same goes for gossip that comes to you; instead of passing it on, let it stop at you. Not only will you be able to spend more time in productive conversations, but you’ll also get more done and gain more respect from your colleagues.

10) Don’t Say Yes When You Mean No

Everyone knows how hard it is to refuse a request. Most times, what we’re most afraid of is what will happen after we’ve said no. Fortunately, saying no rarely goes as badly as we expect. Another hard part of saying no is worrying about what others will think when we do so. And so when you choose to say no, also choose to let go of the worries associated with it.

11) No Fear

Fear has a funny way of creeping into our heads, despite how confident we might think we are. One fear can quickly multiply, infecting all aspects of our lives. Next thing we know, we have backed ourselves into a corner. Why let your dreams pass you by? Plan, imagine and dream, and then set about making it a reality. If you want to start a business, take the first step. If you want to change careers, do it. If you want to expand or enter a new market or offer new products or services, go for it. Put your fears aside and get started.

Because once tomorrow comes, today is lost forever.

12) Stop Focusing On ‘Stuff’

Does the way you dress, the car you drive, the possessions you own, the title you have or the things you’ve done have to do with impressing others? If so, it might be time to start doing things for you. Because while people may like the things you have, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they like you. A genuine relationship is much more valuable, because it makes you happier.  Choosing to be yourself no matter what can instantly remove a lot of stress from your life

13) Give Up Controlling

Contrary to popular belief, giving up the need to control doesn’t mean you give up control. You may be the boss, the manager or have another lofty title, but that designation doesn’t mean you have a golden ticket to control others. It also doesn’t mean that yours is the only opinion that matters. Control is short term at best, because it often requires force, fear, authority, or some other form of pressure, none of which help you feel good about yourself.

When you release the need to control and focus on finding those who want to go where you’re going, they’ll work harder, have more fun, and create better business and personal relationships. So will you.

14) Cut the Criticisms

There is something to be said for education and experience. However, just because you’ve been around more blocks, climbed more mountains and slayed more dragons than someone, doesn’t mean you are any better or smarter than they are. Everyone is on his or her own unique journey, and no one’s journey is better or worse than anyone else’s; it’s just different. Appreciate those differences instead of criticising perceived shortcomings.

15) Put the Kibosh on Preaching

Preaching shares the same space as criticising; they are both forms of judgment. Even though you may have accomplished a lot, doesn’t mean that people want to hear about it. Speaking with finality may cause people to hear you, but it won’t cause them to listen. When you refrain from preaching and just share your experiences instead, you and those you speak with will feel much happier.

You may think that these things are easier said than done. It depends on your focus. Remember that things that happened in the past were merely training for the person you are right now. You aren’t the same person you were yesterday. Nor will you be the same person tomorrow that you are today.

When something happens, choose to see it as an opportunity to discover something you didn’t know. Also important is to understand that no one ever stops learning, regardless of how much experience they have or how many accolades they’ve received. Staying humble can open up far more doors in your career and your life than being in denial about how much you have to learn.