In this series, I’ll be suggesting ways you can make things simpler for yourself in various life areas.
Simplify Your To-Do List: What Not To Do
One of the smartest things you can do to simplify your life is to make decisions in advance. If you already know what you choose not to do, you can save yourself considerable time and mental energy every time a question comes up.
By having a What Not To Do list, you pre-make entire categories of decisions. Putting a line through choices that don’t work for you, or that feel like less than the best use of your time, can be wonderfully liberating.
Now of course, you need to be careful that you don’t let yourself get closed minded or boring. As with everything, it’s a matter of balance, of finding choices that make life simpler, not narrower.
My What Not To Do list contains a range of things I just don’t do anymore. They waste time or energy, or they create mental clutter, or they get in the way of more important things. In every case, the cost of losing them is smaller than the gain. My life is simpler and runs more smoothly in large part because of the things I don’t do.
See if anything on my list suggests ideas for your own What Not To Do list.
My ‘What Not To Do’ List
Here are some things I simply don’t do – so that I have time, energy and mental clarity for things that genuinely matter to me:
- Ironing – I only buy clothes that dry ready-to-wear
- Shopping outside my local zone – if I can’t get it locally, I don’t bother with added travel time to go elsewhere
- Watching TV – I watch DVDs or recorded programs to limit myself to what I really enjoy, and to avoid ads
- Chatting on the phone – I chat in person and make arrangements by text/email
- Scheduling social engagements during my work day – it’s too hard to get back into work mode
- Answering the security buzzer during my work day – if it’s a friend they can call me; most likely it’s a salesperson who’ll break my concentration and waste time
- Going to the gym at peak times – it takes less time and energy to get to the gym when there are fewer people around
- Decanting anything – I used to decant cookies, cereal, etc into nice containers but found it a colossal waste of time
- Cooking – I have neither the skill nor interest, so that makes it easy
- Using tablecloths – too much washing, folding, etc
- Having plants – I’ve killed too many not to know better by now
- Have a guest bedroom – the space is much more effectively used as a second office
- Eating leftovers after 48 hours – a rule-of-thumb that makes it easy to decide when to discard
- Sending Christmas cards – I have a Christmas e-card made each year, and send that instead
- Reading/watching the news – I see headlines when I cut the crossword out of the paper, and I catch major events on social media
- Going to the movies – too much crunching and talking; I happily wait for the DVD.
Your ‘What Not To Do’ List
Now over to you. What belongs on your personal ‘What Not To Do’ list?
Think about things that:
- You do out of habit
- You do because you think you should
- You hate doing
- Feel like a waste of time
- Contribute little or nothing to your goals
- Bore you
- Annoy you
- Get in the way of what you really want to be doing
- Consistently disappoint you
- Take a lot of time for little reward
- Could be done differently, or at a different time, or in a different way.
It might feel a little strange to create this list, but give it a try. You’ll feel the weight lift off your shoulders and the clouds clear as you pre-decide on no-go zones for your life.
That is – your new, simpler life.
[Image by lucianvenutian]