My list was just a mental one until I read an email from Daniel Pink about his “don’t do list” (he credits Tom Peter for his inspiration).
A No List
From my training in Ericksonian Hypnosis, I learned that our unconscious mind doesn’t hear negative commands–it doesn’t hear “don’t”. If you tell someone not to think of a pink elephant, he has to think of it to not think of it. Your unconscious hears the “don’t do” as “do [that]”. So I changed the name of my list to a No List.
Another reason I like the “no” title is that no is a word we don’t use enough. If you’re like me, you can be a little too nice with hedging your no’s. Rather than just say no, you give reasons, excuses, half truths, justifications, etc. Give up that need to explain. Just say no. Even to yourself. What to put on your No List
Where do you lose energy? What things do you do, or think about doing, that take more energy than they give you? I’m not talking short-term; things like getting a degree, or writing a book, that involve long nights that aren’t energy producing, may give back much more energy in the future. I mean those meetings that don’t produce results, or watching another late night TV show that just makes you tired in the morning. Get honest about what saps your energy, and put it on your No List. If you aren’t sure, ask others for suggestions for you. Those unnecessary obligations, time-wasting distractions, useless habits–all those things that when you do, you wish you weren’t doing, or that aren’t furthering what you want in your life. Put it all on your No List.
It might be more challenging to not do things than to do them. We all like distractions. That’s fine, just admit to it. We need down time. We need time to day dream, rest and rejuvenate. Get honest about your needs and put them on your Do List. Then determine which are just energy-sucking distractions, and put them on your No List.
Once you have a list, post it someplace. Then give it to someone who will hold you accountable to not do. When he or she sees you doing something on it, or even thinking about doing something on it, they are on you.
As Daniel Pink says, your No List will allow you more time to do “what’s satisfying and important, and a little less time doing what’s irritating and meaningless.” “What you decide not to do is probably more important that what you decide to do,” Tom Peters claims.
Let us know about your feelings and results around your NO List.