Halloween. Check. Thanksgiving. Check. Christmas and New Year’s… On the way. With the holidays come long to-do lists: go shopping, book the trip to Grandma’s, plan the office party and on and on and on. Take a step back and remember there are only so many hours in any day to get things done. To help my clients see the state of their affairs I often ask them to show me their to- do list(s). Then I challenge them to make a to- don’t list. The idea usually catches them of guard but once they understand how much there is to gain by giving up a few things, the easier it is to make the list. Here are a few to-don’ts to get you started:

Four things “to-don’t” that can simplify your life

1. Don’t add to your list of activities = Decommit

Let go of one commitment. Pick the one that doesn’t add much value or the one that you really don’t want to do. Call the appropriate person and tell them that you will no longer be working on this item. It will help you get rid of any negative feelings associated with this task and free up time for what you really want to do.

2. Don’t try to do everything = Do Less

Shorten your to-do list to just 10 items then choose 2 that can be delegated, automated, outsourced or ignored. Ensure that tasks on your list align to your priorities, interests and skills to increase the likelihood of them getting done.

3. Don’t try to finish things faster = Move Slower

Life is so fast paced these days you may fee l if you go to slow then life may pass you by. You can choose to opt out of that mentality and still have a full life in which you achieve those things which are most important to you. Practice eating slower, driving slower, talking slower, working slower. By being more thoughtful and deliberate in your actions you can be safer, improve your interactions with others and increase the quality of your outputs.

4. Don’t juggle multiple activities, thoughts, tasks at once = Single Task

Instead of trying to do many things all at the same time, focus on one thing. Clear a space on your desk or in your mind, remove any outside distractions and stick to that one task until it is complete.

If you are not ready to apply these concepts, don’t worry. 🙂 Saying no is often hard; changing habits is very hard. To-don’t is a different way of thinking and acting that can lead to a simpler way of living. Just think how much better this holiday season could be if you change one thing that reduced stress or gave you more quality time with family.
Take one small step towards making room for the life you want to live by adding to-don’t to your list today.


Adapted from www.zenhabits.net “Ten things to do to simplify your life”