I have a special treat for you today!! My sweet friend, Emily, from Small Stuff Counts, is visiting to share her fantastic tips for making the most of our time with a what not to do list so we can crush our week!
This is seriously just what I need if I’m going to have any chance at successfully living my word for the year so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Here’s Emily!
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Hey there, Happy Organized Life readers! I’m Emily from The Small Stuff Counts and I’m delighted that Emily invited me over to chat with you today! Anybody with the name Emily is bound to be pretty cool ;).
If you visit my blog, it won’t take you long to figure out that I am obsessed with organization and time management. I’m always working to find ways to be more intentional with my time so I can spend more time on the things that I care about most.
I am a huge fan of to-do lists, but sometimes I get stressed out by how out of control they become.
Life gets crazy and I end up with an overwhelming list of to-dos that is completely unrealistic to complete. Can you relate to that?
It’s easy to keep piling tasks on your plate and committing to new opportunities, but remember that you only have twenty-four hours in the day. That means something’s got to give!
Are all of those to-dos really worth your time?
One thing that can really help trim down your list is by creating a not-to-do list.
What is a Not To Do List?
Unlike a typical to-do list, a not-to-do list is a place to write down all of the things you are no longer going to waste your time and energy on.
By taking some time to create a not-to-do list, you can make sure those things don’t creep onto your to-do list. This will help you use your time more intentionally.
Your not-to-do list is the place to write down all of the distractions in your life and things that aren’t worth spending your time on.
How to Create Your Own Not To Do List
The easiest way to create your own not to do list is to use this free Not To Do List printable I created. It will help you brainstorm items for your not-to-do list.
Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with an out-of-control to-do list, I take a few minutes to regroup and prioritize tasks.
Time is a resource that cannot be replenished, which means we have to be super-mindful with how we use it. I tend to get absorbed in being productive enough to get everything done, so I try to remind myself that it’s still fastest to not do things at all.
I’m always amazed at how many things I can take off my plate just by taking a critical look at my list!
This printable has six sections to help you brainstorm not-to-dos. I find it helpful to look back through recent to-do lists and retrace the past couple weeks to identify items that should be added to my not-to-do list.
Six Areas in Your Life Where You Can Do Less
Here’s a quick look at the six categories on the printable along with some examples:
1. Stuff that distracts you and wastes your time
Checking e-mail first thing in the morning is one item that could be added to your not to do list because it can be a huge time suck that distracts you from getting started on bigger priorities early in the day.
Checking notifications on your phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and Linkedin are examples of other huge time wasters. While social media can be fun and a great resource or way to connect with others, it’s also too easy to mindlessly scroll for 20 minutes (or more). Moderation should really be the goal.
2. Stuff that stresses you out or causes negative emotions
If going to the grocery store during the five o’clock rush with screaming kids in tow stresses you out or causes anxiety, avoid doing it! Put it on your not-to-do list and think of an alternate option like leaving the kids at home with dad or grocery shopping at a quieter time of day.
3. Stuff that drains your energy
Pay attention to the things in your day that drain you. These could also be called low-value tasks. That could be reading negative reviews or maybe eating an unhealthy lunch makes you sluggish all afternoon.
When you identify something that drains your energy, try to keep it off your to-do list.
4. Stuff you feel obligated to do
We tend to place unnecessary pressure on ourselves because we think others expect certain things of us. Being smart with your time may mean skipping Christmas cards this year or passing on the invite for that get together Friday night.
5. Stuff that doesn’t actually need to be done
This one gets me every time. It’s amazing how many things make their way onto my to-do list that don’t need to happen at all!
I place unrealistic expectations on myself, but at the end it’s really only the important tasks that need to be on my to do list. Unimportant tasks are easy to put on the not-to-do list. Some examples could be decorating for the holidays or handmaking Halloween outfits.
6. Stuff you can’t control or aren’t your responsibility
There’s no sense in wasting your valuable time stressing about something from the past or worrying about a friend’s life choices. If it’s out of your control or not your business, try your best not to waste any energy on it.
Bonus Tip! Other Ways to Use a What Not To Do List
You can even use a Not To Do List for specific areas of your life.
For example, if you’re tired of your current job and want to pursue your dream job instead, you could start by asking yourself what you do and don’t want to do.
What would you love for your life to look like on a daily basis?
What positions would your strengths make you perfect for? What are your weaknesses? Are you good at multitasking or would you rather be able to focus on one task at a time?
Asking yourself potentially difficult questions like these before searching the job market can help to ensure you’re going in the right direction.
When you find a new job that seems like it would be a good fit, you could make another list of common mistakes you want to be sure not to do during the interview to help you make a good impression like avoiding eye contact, having poor posture, or sharing too much personal information.
You could also use a not to do list for small projects or trying new things kind of like a reverse bucket list. Getting clear on your refusals and the things you absolutely don’t want to do can help to clarify the things that are truly important to you.
Trying to reduce your expenses? Try making a list about what you no longer need to spend money on!
There’s really no limit to the number of ways you could use a list like this!
Once you finish brainstorming items to add to your not-to-do list, choose the top five you want to focus on and write them in the bottom section of the printable. Your job is to guard your to-do list from those things at all costs.
Since we all have limited time, it’s super important to be protective of your schedule. Don’t let all of the inessentials get in the way of what’s truly important to you.
By taking a few minutes to identify your not-to-dos, you’ll know to watch out for them creeping back onto your to-do list.
I could geek out about time management all day long! If you want to learn more about being smart with your time, you’re welcome to sign up for my free ecourse, Organize Your Week.
I also just published an entire ebook on the subject, Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly Routine, and would love for you to check it out! It is a guide to making your whole week run smoothly. I think you’ll love all of the worksheets and exercises in it! And you already have a head start because figuring out what’s on your not-to-do list is an important piece of creating your weekly routine.
What’s one thing you are adding to your not-do-do list? Let us know in the comments!
Thank you to Emily for having me over today, and thank YOU for reading! Have an amazing day!
Emily Counts is the blogger behind The Small Stuff Counts, where she teaches her readers how to fuel their creativity, decorate their homes and organize their lives. When she’s not decorating and organizing everything in sight, she works as a marketing professional. She is a lifelong Iowan and currently resides in central Iowa with her husband.