I’ve been writing about creativity and productivity lately and to continue on in that stream of thought I wanted to write about the lists we make to keep a mental check on everything.
You’re having a creative influx yet are feeling the impending of your TO DO list. Everyone loves a good to do list yet there are list makers and there are list makers. I belong in the first category: to do lists are beautiful written out, neatly forgotten about and re-written at some later date. I keep most of it in my head – it’s effective up there. Lists only work for me if the tasks at hand are too huge to handle at once and need to be broken down into many smaller parts in order to function.
Then there are some of you who make incredible, fabulous and seemingly endless to do lists using incredible programs and platforms to organise them (yes, I am looking at you Virgo’s!) and keep their lists in check.
I find that to do lists never actually end, we always find something additional to include as we juggle priorities. Or we entirely avoid certain tasks which remain on that list for months on end finding a multitude of other MORE IMPORTANT things to do such as scrubbing the tiles in the bathroom (yuck) until one day we finally scrape up the courage to tackle them only to find that it wasn’t that bad after all, was it?
There is however, an extraordinarily simple and radically different approach to the to do list. The NOT to do list. It works effectively under the premise to give you the time to actually focus on the things that are important and add value to your life and to your work. It’s about clearing the clutter from your mind, absolving unnecessary extra duties and simplifying your life so it runs smoother, better, easier. And you have more time for the beach or to go out for wine.
The NOT to do list helps you get out of your own way and allows your creativity to flow more productively. Let’s cut to the chase by focusing our energies on what is truly beneficial for us.
My current NOT do list goes a bit like this:

  1. Don’t check emails more than twice a day. The same goes for Facebook + Twitter. Any more is truly a waste of my time.
  2. Don’t try to multi-task. It’s such an easy trap to fall into and it FEELS so productive but in fact it does the opposite. It’s important to remain present with each task at hand.
  3. Don’t rush. Ever. Rushing causes me to come off balance.
  4. Don’t say YES when deep down I actually want to say NO.
  5. Don’t expect to get it right or perfect or excellent the first time, every time.
  6. Don’t push myself when things aren’t flowing. Step away. Breathe. Do something else. The best work unfolds on its own. Resistance means NO. Stop. Effortless inspiration means YES. Go.
  7. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. It’s none of my business anyway.
  8. Don’t worry in general. It is futile and wastes precious moments.
  9. Don’t indulge in negative self-talk. When doubts and insecurities cloud over, it’s time for a change. Take a nap. Walk in the grass. Smile.
  10. Don’t expect to know everything. You always know exactly enough of what you need in every moment.
  11. Don’t do things the way other people do them just because they say that’s the way things are done. Think it over and find the best possible solution. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are not.
  12. Don’t feel guilty. About anything. Ever. You and everyone else is always doing the best they possibly can.

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