The Stop-Doing ListAUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
"To get what you want, stop doing what isn't working." ~ Earl Warren
Definitely one of the most important changes that have occurred in my life these past few years is having become really aware of how important it is to know when to say no. This is a keystone habit that can trigger the development of other habits and cause major changes in your life. It has helped me to become not just more efficient and productive in what I do, but also to do more of the things I enjoy and less of the things I don’t.
In any person’s life, sooner than later, there comes a time when 100% of our time is always filled. If your time is all occupied, how can you grow? Obviously, in order to let new things into your life, you must first make room. And saying no means so. It means making room to have new experiences that allow you to grow, improve and be happier.
Saying no to all the unnecessary obligations, which have been unconsciously generated, is essential to establish the values on which your new life is based. In purely productive terms, these needless obligations are nothing but distractions that keep you from your priorities. If you want to spend most of your time with projects and tasks you enjoy, you need to stop doing other activities.
Chris Guillebeau, in his book The Art of Non-Conformity, recommends keeping a to-stop-doing list. Which tasks are taking up most of your energy without contributing to anything worthwhile? List them. By writing them, you will become aware of what things you shouldn’t be doing and why, and your brain will pave the way to stop doing them.
Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, says that the key to have more time is to do less, and, for this, we must eliminate things. Although he gives it a slightly different name, he also recommends to make a not-to-do list: If you had to stop carrying out 3 out of 4 time-consuming activities, which ones would you eliminate to keep the negative impact on your goals to a minimum?
Finally, Jim Collins, author of books such as Good To Great, proposes the following exercise in his article Best New Year’s Resolution? A ‘Stop Doing’ List:
“Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?”
So do you already have a list of things you should not be doing?