Creating a “To-Don’t” List

I first heard about making a to-do list from my father who admonished me for frittering my time away. “You don’t seem to understand the concept of priorities,” he said. “Write down on a sheet of paper everything you need to do for that day and then prioritize the items.”

Being a teenager then, it was a revelation to me. But you, as a professional consultant are probably sick by now of hearing about prioritizing and making a “to-do list.” You’ve heard it so many times your ears have grown calluses, as they say in Japan.

And yet, the ability to set priorities is the key to your effectiveness, not only as a consultant, but in whatever you may choose to do in life. What sets the successful managers apart from the rest of the herd? It’s the talent for getting the right things done.

The late management consultant Peter Drucker observed that top managers have the courage and the foresight to concentrate on critical tasks.

But what about the fip side? What about the courage and the foresight to let go of everything that’s nonessential, of avoiding concentrating on non-critical tasks?

In “Organized for Success,” Stephanie Winston suggests making a list of everything that you should not be spending time on.

You may find it useful to list every single thing that you’re doing right now, including what you think you ought to be doing. Then analyze each item to see if it really is a high priority. Is it something you absolutely should do? Does it further your top business goals? (If you haven’t written out your goals, I suggest that you do.) What would happen if you stopped doing it? Or decided to never do it or to delegate it?

Sometimes you have so much on your plate it’s hard to see what are the truly crucial tasks! This is where creating a “don’t-do” list comes in handy. Once you create one, you should have a much clearer idea of what you can let go of and what you can’t. You have to be smart about what you don’t do.

Anything not on your “don’t do” list will go into your new “to-do” list. Then review, analyze, and examine each item against your top goals to see if it is truly a priority. Whittle your new to-do list down to three to five items

You have to be smart about what you don’t do, not just about what you do. Once you have your priorities straight, you’ll truly be able to focus!' About Cheryl Chow

Writer, Editor, Translator (Japanese/Chinese to English), specializing in Health and Fitness. Owner of My Cat is My Therapist site, exploring the health benefits of the human-animal bond.

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