I think that to-do lists are overrated. I myself get a lot more return on investment from a single Not-to-do list. If you haven’t heard about this concept, here’s how you can implement it:
- At the end of the day, identify things you should NOT have done to make more progress on your goals/tasks.
- Write them on a piece of paper as “Don’t …”
- From there, every day you failed to comply with an item, you put an X next to it.
- Repeat. You keep the same list until you have space left.
Here are some examples from my not-to-do list:
- Don’t check news / social updates until 5 pm
- Don’t skip a lunch break
- Don’t research a random idea during the day
- Don’t react to low-importance/urgency texts/chats/emails until the end of the day
You should definitely have your short-term goals in mind (or on paper), but I’d argue that you should introduce a not-to-do list before the to-do list. Here’s why:
- First, the not-to-do list is close to zero overhead as it’s the same list every day.
- Second, adding the wrong thing to the not-to-do list is almost impossible.
- Third, the not-to-do list is much more achievable and satisfying as there’s no such thing as “It took me much longer not doing X, so I have to postpone not doing Y till tomorrow.”
- Fourth, the most important, by eliminating things that distract or effortlessly pleasure your mind, you make it hungry for hard work.