Do you have a “Stop Doing List?”

Stop Doing ListThe bestselling author Jim Collins gave the keynote address this morning at BoxWorks 2014 and he did a fantastic job of motivating and inspiring me.

While he gave many worthwhile stories and concepts that are very relevant to CIOs and GTD practitioners, he ended with a simple question that I am going to incorporate into my trusted system.

He asked the crowd how many people had to-do lists and everyone’s hands went up. Then he asked who had a “stop doing list” and very few hands went up.

I am going to incorporate this into my Weekly Review because the “stop doing list” will become a mechanism for disciplined thought about how to allocate the most precious of all resources: time.

At the top of my “stop doing list” is going to be agreeing to low-value commitments. Many times I regret saying “yes” to a request of a colleague, friend, family member, salesperson, vendor, charity, conference, etc.

Deciding that I’m not going to do something is one of the most challenging aspects of self-management. Most of us hate to say “no” — to ourselves and to others. But there are practical things we can do to make that process more positive and dynamic.

This dovetails perfectly with GTD because if you do have a complete and trusted inventory of your current commitments, at every level, your ability to decline potential new ones will automatically be enhanced. Knowing when to say yes or no is a big part of stress-free productivity.

About Michael Keithley

3 Responses to Do you have a “Stop Doing List?”

  1. Andre says:

    This is a great prioritization habit! It’s not just getting things done, but getting the right things done. In my work with agile methods, there is a similar point in the manifesto: maximize work not done, which is often misused and misunderstood, but it’s essence is exactly to manage a do not do list. Time to also incorporate into my personal process!

  2. david_h says:

    I always tell my staff that “no” is not a four letter word, it’s okay to use it. Putting the practice into a weekly review would cement the concept I suppose.

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