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What You Don’t Do Is As Important As What You Do

Productivity is often equated with an accumulation of tasks to be completed. This often endless list can seem insurmountable and above all unsatisfying, even though it is complete. Productivity lies as much in the non-doing as in the doing. It is a matter of being discerning and clear. The choice not to do certain things is as important as the choice to do other things.

The Importance Of Having A List Of Things Not To Do

To free up time, focus and energy, you have to make a conscious decision not to do certain things. Having a To do list is good but having a “Not to do list” is also good. Becoming aware of the things we are not going to do allows us to develop the habit of clarity. It’s like when you tidy up your house. If you clear your desk of clutter, you can focus on the essential things. Without this cleaning habit, you’ll have a hard time not getting distracted and will spread yourself too thin, leading you to waste your energy on unimportant things.

How do you go about creating a “Do Not Do” list?

List all the things that are not related to your long-term goals.

Among these things:
List all the things that cause you pain, sadness, resentment, anger or shame. Rank the activities that cause you the most negative emotions.

Rank the activities by their cost in time, energy and concentration on a daily basis.

Start by eliminating the activities that take up the most mental and time resources and those that generate the most negative emotions. If you can’t eliminate them, try to reduce these activities gradually or avoid contexts that expose you to such activities.

Create this list with a simple tool

I recommend using a free tool from Google called “Keep”. It exists as an application or on a web page. Its appeal is that it simply allows you to create checklist of tasks or a list of ideas that you can access at any time. Its format is minimalist, which makes it very effective in avoiding unnecessary distraction.

Make a deliberate habit of doing nothing every day

We always stay busy, even if it’s to be unproductive. Doing nothing (i.e. just thinking) is a skill that is not shared by everyone. We either look at our phone, call someone, read or do something else. This is why it is necessary to learn to just think, nothing more. This will help you preserve your cognitive resources and make it easier to get into the state of deep work.

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