Today, rather than bleat about how helpful to-do lists are, we’re going to throw the convention of listing your to-dos into a metaphorical volcano because productivity doesn’t always follow convention.
There’s a huge problem with to-do lists and that’s our inability to set ourselves deadlines. Just writing down what you should be doing isn’t productive, it just proves to yourself that you, at the very least, know what you’re meant to be doing. Having the willpower to do it, as your worn-down snooze button attests to, is a different story.
Now begins the era of the Do-Not-Do List! The Muse raise a very good argument for why we should abandon the traditional to-do list: “this inconsistent prioritisation of “mediocre” activities can seriously get in the way of your ability to spend time meaningfully and commit to what matters most”.
The really important stuff you put on your to-do lists don’t need writing down because they’re important enough to remember. For every thing you write down on a to-do list, you’re pushing it onto the back-burner and saying ‘no’ to prioritisation.
Do-Not-Do Lists are a way to consciously limit the tasks that are just slowing you down. Whether it’s how often you check Twitter or the weekly errands that you should just be delegating to something else, having a visible document of all the things you shouldn’t be doing will contribute massively to your productivity.
For example, instead of writing on a to-do list: “Call John S”, you should write on your do-not-do list: “Call someone at least once a day”.
Not only will this mean that John S will be called but it will boost how sociable you are. Writing John’s name on a post-it doesn’t give any indication of deadline and it will just sit there until circumstance dictates you call him rather than active choice.