Having a NOT to do list…

To Do List

With the never-ending stream of content by email, text message and Facebook update, our minds are never short of things to think about, consider and process.  At the same time, running a business and any sort of active life creates an ongoing stream of possible tasks, commitments, appointments and errands.  We never seem short of things “to do”.

In the coaching game, it is relatively easy to produce tips and techniques that help people do and achieve more, in less time, with more effectiveness and with greater enjoyment.  Let’s face it, we’ve been producing newsletters of that ilk for 12 years.  It is rarer to find exhortations to do less, take on fewer commitments or trim your activity – yet we would argue that could lead to greater effectiveness.

If there is no shortage of things to do on our joblist, and no shortage of tips on how to manage them, perhaps it is time to suggest some tips to address the shortage of ideas on how NOT to do things.  As always, we like an alliteration when we create a list, so all our Don’t Do It tips start with D.

Duvet Day –  hiding under the covers for hours, days or weeks is one way to avoid what is on your to do list.  It can have its merits, for sure, but not perhaps the way to achieve your vision.

Decompress – to be able to make the right decisions about your to do list, it can help to decelerate from the pace of live and get some perspective.  How often do you make life-changing decisions on holiday (and we’re not referring to that dragon tattoo you got in Bangkok)?  So many of our clients (and us) find they work better when they get away from the treadmill once in a while and silence the daily noise.

Dump – we all carry things on our to do list that don’t really need doing, that don’t take you towards achieving your vision, or are just time wasters.  Like (allegedly) TB-infected badgers, these (allegedly) need to be culled for the sake of the herd.    Some things on your list might be as cute, doey-eyed and affable as a badger might appear, but they are draining you and your time.

Delegate – If you are a professional, any task that is repeated, administrative and relatively low-brow should be delegated to someone who carries a cost commensurate with the task.  Your time isn’t free, so give that work to someone else and focus on higher-value tasks that use your skills, create momentum and lead to your vision.  If you are an administrator, look to technology to delegate to – automate processes, use software, simplify tasks.

Delineate – whether it be creating proper boundaries between work tasks and home tasks (how many parents find it hard to concentrate at home during the summer holidays?…), or delineating between the various roles you might fulfil in your business (technician, accounts person, marketing manager etc), find a way to delineate your time and attention to do one thing well, before moving on.  If you subscribe to the myth that multi-tasking is a good thing, ask whether you would want your brain surgeon or air traffic controller checking Facebook while they work.

Discuss – few people operate as islands, unconnected to others, so you may need to have conversations with staff, bosses, colleagues or spouses before changing your to do list too radically.  Challenge demands made upon you – are these tasks really necessary or contributing?  How could others work with you better to improve your effectiveness?

Do what is left with purpose and passion – have the courage to make your NOT TO DO list longer than your to do list, and then do what you have kept with gusto.  We are sure you will appreciate the difference.

Do tell us!

As much as anyone else, we know how hard it can be to manage a to-do list.  We know how the rush of things that need attention can be never ending.  We also need reminding every now and then that what you choose NOT to do can be as important to your success as what you choose TO do.

What’s on your NOT TO DO list?


James Butler, Celia Champion and the Painless Business Team


Painless Business helps people build the business they want.  Through improving your strategic outlook and guiding you on sales, marketing and personal development we can provide renewed motivation and momentum in building your business.

Careful assessment of your needs ensures that the most appropriate intervention is supplied – whether one to one ongoing coaching, strategic reviews, training events or facilitated group exercises within a team.

To discuss how you can painlessly build the business you want, call us today for a no-obligation discussion of your situation.


james@painlessbusiness.com                                                                               celia@painlessbusiness.com

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