The Not to Do List

For most of us, the thought of ‘tackling my to-do list’ can be a bit overwhelming.

Where should I start? What needs to be done? In the face of an endless list of tasks, many of us end up paralyzed by organizational anxiety — overloaded before we even begin. But in reality, you don’t need to do it all, just the small percentage of things that really matter. In a sense, we get so busy being busy, we often miss the proverbial forest for the threes. If you’re blessed with energy, but that energy is not directed properly, you’re really just on a big fat treadmill to nowhere. Read on to learn about how making a ‘not to do’ list can help you step off that task treadmill to nowhere.

Sarah on ‘Make a Nothing Else List’

‘Your to do list should help you get things accomplished, not overwhelm. And it’s only going to do the latter if it is pages long and full of way more things than you can possibly do in a day. If you have a list that is an arm’s-length long, pare it down to the absolute essentials.

List the three tasks you absolutely, positively must accomplish today followed by the three people you absolutely, positively must phone and email today. Then get to work immediately on crossing those off the list. The gift a ‘nothing else’ list gives you is a shift in perspective. Rather than considering yourself a failure for not getting through your total list, you are going above and beyond if you get to anything more than the absolute priorities.’

Alicia on ‘Don’t Forget to Put Yourself on the List’

‘When was the last time you created a to do list with a line item for taking care of yourself? Our guess is: never! But taking time to recharge your batteries is critical, whether it’s going for a twenty minute walk, pouring yourself a hot cup of tea and curling up with a book, or a taking a quick trip to the manicurist. We know this much is true: what you write down gets done. If you don’t put taking care of yourself on the list, you won’t ever get to it. And your colleagues, friends and family all benefit from a you that is rested, relaxed and sane.’

Here are a few simple tips that should help you focus on the really important.

#1. Win the imaginary lottery
Just for a moment, let’s play the imaginary lottery. Congratulations! You have just won $10 million! However, on this very same day, you also learn you have only 5 years left to live. Given this new reality, what are your priorities? The things at the top of your list are the most important and should find their way on your everyday to do lists. Life is lived in minutes and moments, not in sweeping blocks of time. Make sure the steps you’re taking in the day-to-day reflect your big-picture goals.

#2 Get Prepared
Nobody likes to think of what would happen in the case of a natural disaster like an earthquake, flood, or hurricane. But preparing for the unexpected should be a priority for everybody. A recent study conducted by Buttoned Up showed that nearly three quarters of Americans are operating without the safety net of an emergency plan. Putting one together is simple, straightforward and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. Put creating one on your family’s to do list this week.

#3 Be Grateful
Relax. Is your family healthy? Then everything every thing else is a want to and not a have to; learn to tell the difference. Try to incorporate a bit of fun and moments that let you appreciate what you have in the midst of the daily grind. Set up your errands so that you can end with something fun, like mini-golf, feeding the ducks at the local park, or an ice cream cone.