To Do Lists

To do lists. Everybody’s made one. I made two today. I’m so satisfied when I cross something off my list that I wanted to get done. I’m a list person. Lists help me focus. I’ve been using them as long as I can remember. Here are two ideas that I’ve heard recently that helped me to think differently about to do lists.

First Thought

We’ve all made a list of things we want/need to do. But how many of us have made a list of things we don’t need to do? or need to stop doing? A “to don’t list?” Maybe “don’t do list” is better but I’m going use the first one. While all of us have so many things we need to do, we also have loads of things we don’t need to do. The magic of a “to don’t” list is that it will give you so much more time for the things you’ve chosen to do.

Think about it. There are so many things that I need to stop doing. Like scrolling endlessly through Instagram look at cat and basketball pics. That’s what I need need on my “to don’t list.” I don’t even want to think about the amount of time I spend doing this. One thing I did stop doing a while back was checking my emails all day long at work. I started only checking them for three 15 minute chunks throughout the day. What happened? I literally saved 60-90 minutes a day. I’m not exaggerating at all. And guess what? I still responded to everyone I needed to respond to. What could you do to save 60 minutes a day? It adds up like this: 60 minutes saved a day = 5 hours per week. I work about 48 weeks a year. That’s 240 hours saved. 240 hours= 10 days. I am able to do 10 days worth of more meaningful work than someone else with a similar job who doesn’t do this. That’s two whole work weeks! How much more valuable would you be to your company if you were able to work two more weeks of meaningful work than those around you?

Second Thought

I was listening to a podcast in which Dan Miller (48 Days to the Work You Love) and he was sharing about one little word that he added to his to do lists: “get.” A “get to do list.” He said that this helped to change the way he thought about his tasks in a positive way. See when you make a list, you’re making choices. I’m choosing to put certain things on my list that I think I need to do. Adding “get” to the do list highlights my control and responsibility. It helps me stop thinking unproductive thoughts like “I have to do this” or “I probably should do this.” Rather, it helps me to think more positively. It really is a something to be grateful for that I am capable of doing something that I put my mind to. I’m not incapacitated in such a way that I can’t follow though. I can do it. I get to it. It’s cool to be a doer. It’s not cool to be a have to-er.