I finally had a chance to sit down with a woman I have known casually for a long time. She is one of those people who seems to be able to jam thirty-six hours of activity into twenty-four without looking totally frazzled while doing it.
Almost immediately out popped “How do you do it? I write a to-do list almost every day and I can’t seem to get half the things done you do!”
She said the most amazing thing. “I had the same problem for a long time. What helped me was writing a don’t-do list.”
What?! I could not believe it. So I asked for an example or two.
“I don’t wait to go through the mail until it’s two inches thick. I don’t walk into the drugstore to pick up a prescription refill without calling ahead first. I don’t let my gas gauge get below half.”
“So in an extreme example”, I said “you wouldn’t get an hour behind because the car was on empty and you ran out of your prescription this morning and if you’d only looked through the mail you would have gotten an extra discount.”
She laughed. “Exactly. It frees me up for the stuff on my to-do list.”
Wow. I went home and immediately wrote down four things: Don’t watch any TV shows that are not recorded. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Don’t spend more than an hour a day on personal social networking. Don’t wait to make a decision.
What would you put on your don’t-do list?