How’s your To-Do list looking today? Lots of really important stuff that you must get done to keep things moving on the work and home fronts? I get it. I have one, too; actually, a few. And as we head into each new week, it can be a good feeling to start in on a new list and tick things off it as they get completed—a little hit of the reward hormone dopamine to make us happy, then on to the next.
But this week, I would also like you think about what can come off the To-Do list. That’s right; I want you to think about a “Stop Doing” list. Not many people have one, but it can be one the simplest, most effective, potentially game-changing productivity (and sanity-saving) tips I know.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Stop multitasking. It doesn’t work. The science has proven it, and you will always be just one step short of your A game unless you train yourself to focus on and complete the one task you are working on. Try it today and see how it feels. If you need to, give yourself small windows of pure focus time on a project, maybe 30 minutes, and then work continually to build up your muscles. Eventually multitasking, which is really what I call micro-switching, will be a thing of the past.
Stop saying yes when you mean to say no. I mean it: We are all so busy, and I can wear my busy badge with the best of them. But what are we are busy with? The things we said yes to. When we say yes even though we really want to say no, we put other people’s needs ahead of our own. Sometimes, that is necessary, like when your boss (or your kids) needs something immediately. There are exceptions. But as a general rule for your life, you need to start getting clear on what youreally want, and start practicing the art of saying no. No, I can’t do that right now; No, sorry, I can’t take that on; No, I just-really-don’t-want-to! It is an art, and it takes some work. But you can do it.
Stop checking email relentlessly. When you are stuck in the habit of checking your email every 10 minutes, as so many of us do, a few things happen: You get very reactive. You never get into your flow as you are constantly interrupting yourself. And you are setting up a system in which you are at other people’s beck and call—they know you will get back them pronto, so they keep asking. Get into a new habit of only checking email a few times a day, at set intervals—maybe first thing in the morning, lunchtime, and before you head home at the end of the day. Only you can determine the frequency, but the important thing is to stop being reactive and making yourself a slave to the email and instead finding what works best. Oh, and turn off those pesky email alerts that flash up on your screen. They make it almost impossible to change this habit.Those are 3 major joy robbers, but why stop stopping with those? Here are a few other quick ideas:
Stop eating junk for breakfast. It will make you feel slow and grumpy all day.
Stop staying up all night working. You think it’s making you more productive? Sorry; it’s not.
Stop hesitating before speaking up in meetings. You know your stuff; say it out loud.
Stop saying sorry for everything under the sun … unless you really mean it, and it needs to be said.
Stop checking your social media feeds every two minutes. Have a feed free day at least once a week. Nothing bad will happen, and you don’t need to explain it to anyone.
Stop hoarding stuff you no longer need. Clear your space. Get rid of the junk, like old magazines and things you don’t (or can’t) use. This clears the way for new energy.
Stop letting days pass without doing the most important things in your life—the things that make your soul sing. Write, paint, meditate, run, breathe, connect…just be.
What’s on your Stop Doing List? I’d love to know. Drop me a comment below and declare it now.
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