What Not To Do
May 30, 2012
Filed under: Goals,Lists — @ 1:24 pm
I’ve previously written about the importance of setting goals, and keeping lists and checklists to keep you focused on what you want to accomplish. I’ve suggested that you keep a list of your goals, review it often, and update it frequently.
Two lists to manage your life. Until I read this article, “Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning,” it had never occurred to me to keep a second list of the things I don’t want to do. The idea is that we often get distracted by things that are urgent, which means that the things that are important don’t get done.
What are you willing to let go? The suggestion is to write down a list of things you are willing to let go. This makes sense to me — maybe it’s okay to decide you won’t read every email that comes into your inbox. Maybe it’s all right to ignore that professional article on an arcane area of the law. If an activity serves nothing more than to keep you on a treadmill, maybe it’s better to skip it.
What’s the tradeoff? If you do decide not to do something and that gives you the opportunity to accomplish something that is truly important to you — attending your children’s sporting event, for example — the tradeoff is probably worth it. So, having a list of what you don’t want to do will help keep you focused on what’s important and what you really want to accomplish.
Please let me know how this helps you!
Filed under: Lists,Processes — @ 9:00 am
No, I am not talking about leaning sideways!
I’ve been writing about checklists and processes. I thought I would spend one more blog posting talking about the danger and utility of one of the most humble of thought documents: the list.
Lists can be useful. I think there are two major reasons to use lists: (1) as a brain dump; and (2) as a clarifying tool.
The list as brain dump. Are you worried that you can’t remember everything you should be doing? Do you have the nagging feeling that you are forgetting something? Then write it down! You can refer back to the list; you can add things to the list; you’ll feel good when you cross things off the list.
The list as clarifying tool. You can also use a list as a means of weighing options. Draw a line down the middle of a blank sheet of paper. At the top of the left-hand side, write “Pro.” At the top of the right-hand side, write “Con.” Then, list the pros and cons of whatever it is you are debating. After you’ve gone through this exercise, you should be in a better position to make a decision with the confidence you have decided based on something other than gut feeling.
Lists can be dangerous. If you don’t use them correctly, lists can be dangerous things. Writing down all of your to-dos in one place can overwhelm you. You might get depressed and give up! So, if that’s the case, use the list to whittle down what’s really important and set aside the remaining items for another time.
Let me know how this helps you!