We’ve all heard of the to-do list. Many of us use it as a tool to increase our productivity. But have you heard of the not-do list? It’s a list of things that you should avoid doing. By being conscious of what not to do, you can automatically channel your energy into things that you want to do. Doing both hand in hand will maximize your performance.
If you want to take your productivity to the next level, here are nine habits to avoid:
1. Trying to do everything
The 80/20 rule states that not all tasks are equal. In fact, 20% of the tasks on our to-do list account for 80% of the value. So, cut down your to-do list to the minimum essential, laser focus your energy on those 20% high value ones, and let go of the rest.
2. Answering all emails (or calls and messages for that matter)
Selective responding to higher priority emails could save you time and allow you to create more high value content and articles for readers. Organize emails by creating folders and archive emails by the date you have to respond to them.
3. Thinking you have to do everything immediately
Create a do-later list to collect the items that drop in mid-way through the day. Batch and process everything at one go at the end of the day. The same goes for your emails. Create a “Reply by ___” folder where you archive mails to deal with on the respective days.
4. Putting important tasks off
Out of all the people in the world, nobody gets authentic joy from procrastination. The ones who claim to be happy procrastinating are usually living in an illusion, alternating from “Oh I’m happy the way I am” to “I wish I don’t have to do this” to “Sigh, I wish I started earlier” in a matter of seconds. Once you start, it gets easier. Get started on your most important projects now and stop putting them off.
5. Trying to get things perfect the first time round
The perfectionist in us often hinders productivity. Return for a 2nd or 3rd draft where you iron out the little details. It’s much easier this way than trying to get everything right in the 1st version.
6. Being hung up over details
Be detail-oriented but not obsessed with details. Ask yourself, does this matter a year from now? Three years from now? Five years? If not, then maybe it’s not worth worrying about now. Go for the bigger picture.
7. Not having clear goals
Spend some time thinking about your goals for this month, year, and the next. After you work out your priorities, your days become very sharp and focused. Set clear monthly goals and targets that you can review regularly.
8. Not taking breaks
Schedule a short break in between your work hours, say for 5 or 10 minutes, and take a breather. You’ll find your focus markedly higher when you return.
9. Trying to please everyone
You can’t 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 deserve your attention and love.
In conclusion, the not-do list is just as important as the to-do list. By being mindful of what not to do, you can channel your energy more effectively into the things that matter. Avoid these nine habits to jumpstart your productivity and to take your performance to the next level.