How to make a 'not-to-do' list

Dubai - Accessing ancient oriental wisdom for practical modern living

By Anjaan

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 6:41 PM

You probably have a to-do List. Here’s a different type of list which can be a handy tool to help you stay more focused on the significant things in your life and career.

Your to-do list can rapidly become burdened, especially if you have trouble saying no or delegating and outsourcing tasks. This can also happen if you are poor at task management and can’t distinguish very well between urgent/important, low/high-impact tasks.

If you are prone to distractions and bad habits, your to-do list will always be full of tasks that are never completed. The “not-to-do” list, is a list of tasks you don’t do, no matter what. You can delegate them, outsource them, delete them, or simply say NO when they try to find their way onto your to-do list.

Find Vishrama with this list

Having a well thought out not-to-do list will help avoid burnout and accumulation of tension. You carry out all your tasks in what yoga calls vishrama which can mean “Without effort” or in a relaxed way.

This list will help you maintain better focus and only perform tasks that create the greatest value. It will also help you to be more realistic on the tasks you’re doing and only accept what you’re really capable of.

The overall idea of a not-to-do list is to not struggle with self-discipline. This will help you to remove low-value tasks and eliminate bad habits from your life, so that you don’t have to consider the pros and cons, feel guilty for saying no or be in a dilemma of whether or not you should make exceptions.

Guide to making your not-to-do list

Use this template to populate your list of things that you don’t require your attention. These can include:

• All distractions that stop you from living your most efficient and powerful life

• Other people’s responsibilities or work

• Duties/jobs and tasks that emotionally drain you

• Things you want to say no to but somehow you cannot

• Tasks that you can delete, delegate, or outsource

• Tasks that have a low impact on your value creation

• Bad habits you want to eliminate

• Stuff that simply doesn’t need to be done

• Things that are out of your control

Morning routines

Use the not-to-do list concept at the beginning of a new working day, when you take out the time for your 15-minute morning meeting with yourself (or your team) to plan out your tasks for the day.

Instead of only asking yourself which tasks you’ll perform on a certain day, make a list of tasks you certainly won’t do that day, also. It will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders, and you’ll be able to focus on the most important tasks and keep your decision muscle strong for other important choices. Along with that:

• DO NOT check your email first thing in the morning

• DO NOT agree to meetings without a clear agenda and deadline

• DO NOT look at the news or your Instagram feed while working

• DO NOT attempt to work more when you’re overwhelmed. Prioritise your tasks instead

Learn how to say no

In this “Yes culture” dominated capitalist society — sometimes it’s needed to say NO to yourself and other people. Especially, when you are overwhelmed and feeling tensed. When you regularly review your not-to-do list you can add things that you feel are appropriate. Do this for your own mental peace and wellness.

My Guru used to say, “Wanting everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity”. You’re never going to be able to control what others think, so don’t spend too much time sweating over it. Instead, work on the things you have control over — yourself, your emotions, your thoughts and your actions. Spend your energy in the creation process, and on people who do deserve your attention and love. Try it for a week — You’ll find it’s a lot more rewarding this way.

Here’s a not-to-do list to keep you balanced and in equilibrium

•Do not carry your mobile phone 24/7

•Do not answer phone calls during important work

•Do not reply to every email or DM

•Avoid social networks while working

•Do not gossip

•Do not compromise on your health

•Do not avoid meditation

What else do you feel needs to be on your not-to-do list? Yoga encourages the practise of focused attention, which as a form of meditation has been found to have an effect on thought processes, encouraging the creation of new, imaginative ideas. So next time you’re in a creative rut, or feel overwhelmed — write down a not-to-do list. Remember what you don’t do determines what you can do.

Connect with Anjaan across social media @MeditateWithAnjaan

More news from