You Need A ‘Do Not’ List

People will tell you to make to-do lists and complete them, but a ‘do not’ list is many times even more effective.

‘Do not’ lists are precise because there are typically only three to four items on it, so it is much easier to remember than a long 20-point to-do list. This list is important because no matter how hard you try, there will always be three or four things that you need to quit doing, there will always be nuances that need to be tweaked, and there will always be habits that need to be broken, depending on where you are at in life.

Here is my own ‘do not’ list:

  1. Do not run out of energy during peak work time.
  2. Do not turn down Jasmine or kids if they need my time.
  3. Do not work outside my definition of success.
  4. Do not forget to enjoy life and have fun with my work.

I know that if I stick to my list, I will have my ideal day. And your short, direct list will help you find sanity when you are trying to find direction in life.

The ‘do not’ list works as a ‘do not touch’ sign would. If I wrote the list as “1. Have energy., 2. Spend time with family., and, 3. Be successful., 4. Enjoy my day.”, I would not take this list as seriously. The language is firmer, which I definitely need sometimes, and so do you. No matter what your three or four points are on your ‘do not’ list, the “do not” triggers a precautionary mindset that will make it more difficult to neglect.


This article was originally published on asmithblog.com.