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Collabio Spaces

“Not-to-do” Lists: Do You Need One?

Planning and task management are what we enjoy at Collabio Spaces. If you’re already a user of our app, you might already be working with our built-in to-do lists. Perhaps you’ve read our piece about creating effective to-do lists.

Today, we’ll consider the opposite approach. We all know what we should do during the day, however, not many of us decide on what we shouldn’t do. Surprisingly, this strategy can be just as effective as scheduling your day in a to-do list.

The Difference between To-Do and Not-to-Do Lists

  1. Your not-to-do list works for the long run. While you might have separate to-do lists for every day, this one will serve as a discipline for months or maybe even years! Many items on such lists are recurring.
  2. A list without deadlines! Since the items are constantly in sight, they won’t have expiration dates; no need to set reminders. The whole list is a reminder in itself — reminding you not to waste time
  3. Less visits needed. In fact, we can’t say what’s the best time to go through all the items on the not-to-do list. It depends on you, but we certainly don’t need to review it as regularly as a ‘to-do’ list. If you need more discipline, go to the list for a quick reminder.

How to Create an Effective Not-to-Do List?

Here are a few of the main steps in creating your list of things to forget about! Later, we’ll share some examples to generate more ideas for your list!

  1. Track your time and notice time-consuming and unproductive activities. Check in with how you spend time; perhaps you are scrolling Twitter feeds, chatting on the phone too much, or even doing something others ask of you; things not in alignment with our own goals.
  2. List everything you think you can live without. For example, you may happily spend your days without regular social media posts, but communicating with people around you is essential for good relationships.
  3. Filter your list and leave only large-scale time-killers. This will be your not-to-do list for all occasions. Ask yourself the following questions:
    — Is this thing important?
    — Is it urgent?
    — Does it help me achieve my goals?
    — Will something negative happen, if I don’t do it?
    — Will it impact the others, if I don’t do it?

    If the answers to all five questions are ‘No’, then you can immediately add that item to your not-to-do list!

    If you answer ‘Yes’ to at least one of them but still don’t want to do it, delegate this task to someone else or ask your colleagues to help you. However, not-to-do lists are more about your overall approach to life and habits, so delegating is not the way out for every case.

Examples of Not-to-Do Lists

A Not-to-do list is commonly used to rid bad habits or to discipline ourselves. Here are some examples of statements that we at Collabio Spaces use for our personal lists:

  1. Don’t say ‘yes’ unless you are fully sure of what you’re agreeing to.
  2. Don’t multitask or do more than 2 things at once.
  3. Don’t try to do the whole-day job in one hour.
  4. Don’t pursue perfect results but focus on high quality.
  5. Don’t forget about breaks between working sessions.
  6. Don’t set expectations you are not sure you’ll meet.
  7. Don’t be late.
  8. Don’t check email just after getting up and before going to sleep.
  9. Don’t avoid eye-contact.
  10. Don’t rush conclusions.
  11. Don’t replace personal life with work.
  12. Don’t agree to take part in meetings with no agenda.
  13. Don’t be in a smartphone 24/7.
  14. Don’t overuse words like ‘OK’, ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘sort of’, ‘maybe.’

To really enhance the reward of such commitments, write down the benefits of your not-to-do decisions. Visualise what will happen if you get rid of all those habits. Use the following formula:

“Don’t ____ so that I can/get/achieve _____.”

What are the Outcomes?

No matter how often you look at your not-to-do list, it will help you to track your habits. It’s especially important to know what hinders your success.

Even if you create a not-to-do list and then forget about it, your brain will keep hold of those don’ts for a long period. So, every time you’ll set a meeting, your ‘don’t be late’ item will ring in your mind and you’ll arrive early. Before saying ‘yes’ to an offer, you’ll have been considering whether you are really ready to take this challenge.

So, not-to-do lists work for every case, that’s why you should try creating one for yourself right away. By the way, it’s very easy to do this in Collabio Spaces. Just click on the plus button on the main screen and choose ‘Text’. That’s it! Continue listing items as usual — the numbered list will be created by the app automatically. ;)



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