To-do, to-do, what to-do – every day a new list of tasks and projects listed in order of priority waiting for that confirmation checkmark to set us free from that nagging line item. We get so focused on what we hope to accomplish every day that we often neglect to consider what we shouldn’t be doing.
To-do lists are the best way to get things done, but why not take a look at what to-don’t? What tasks belong in the category of “Delegate” or “Not right now” or even “Never do”? What tasks are stealing time away from our priority to-do list, one minute at a time?
What You Don’t Do is as Important as What You Do
For everything you say “Yes” to, there’s a corresponding “No”. Sometimes you say it, sometimes it just happens that way because you can’t say “Yes”, but sometimes it’s a “Yes” that never happens because the opportunity sees you are too busy and assumes the “No”.
So when you focus on tasks on your to-don’t list, you are filling up the space in your calendar, your brain, your creativity, your energy that could be filled with an amazing “Yes”.
Consider Ddding These Tasks to Your To-Don’t List:
#1: Answer your telephone EVERY single time it rings – It’s not the boss of you! It can wait. Schedule calls in your calendar and set two time slots per day to check and return messages. Remember to include call return times in your outgoing message. Of course, this to-don’t rule only applies to calls to your direct line. Your administrative support team should handle the majority of the incoming calls.
#2: Check your email more than twice daily – Turn off the new mail alerts and stop checking your inbox like a Junior Prom girl waiting for Mr. Cool Guy to show up for a first date. Only read your email messages when you are #1: Prepared to respond and #2: Able to allocate the time to properly sort and respond to messages.
#3: Clean your office ‘just because’ – Unless you can no longer find things or function in an efficient manner, put that excuse for getting work done at the top of your daily to-don’t list. Instead schedule time at the end of the week to clear the clutter and make it a habit to tidy up after every activity.
#4: Attend a meeting or conference call without an agenda – Meetings without a clear agenda are a waste of time. If you don’t know why you should be there, don’t be there. Ask people requesting a meeting with you to provide a clear agenda and assign a maximum time to handle each item on the agenda (and stick to it).
#5: Handle day-to-day administrative tasks – Don’t get fooled by the false economy of doing everything yourself. If it can be done by someone other than you, delegate it to someone other than you!
#6: Single-task anything – If it’s an administrative task that absolutely must be handled by you, don’t waste time single tasking. Batch similar tasks together and tackle them all at once.
#7: Work with a less than ideal client – Nothing drains your energy, wastes your time or causes general all-purpose frustration faster than a less than ideal client. If you have one now, fire him. If you are thinking about working with one because you need the money, think again. It’s more hassle than it’s worth.
Got a BIG to-don’t to add to our list? Add your top to-don’ts to our comments below!