To do lists of varying shapes and sizes are lauded as some of the most effective productivity hacks a professional can find. You probably use them in one form or another, though maybe not on a regular basis. But have you ever considered making a Do Not Do list?
A Do Not Do list is a reminder list of things that may pop up and seem more important than what you’re currently focusing on. These are the tasks you’ve consciously decided aren’t worth your time, at least not today. Here are five ways this list can improve your productivity.
1. Clear Focus: The worst thing about random tasks like checking email or fixing a bug on a lower priority project is that they take time away from the more important task you’re currently focusing on. You’ve decided to work on your current task for a reason and you can make time later in your workday or workweek for the random tasks that pop up and try to distract your focus from its current highest priority. Put these tasks on your Do Not Do list and keep going. This will improve your focus because it will clear your head from pesky distractions that are not worthy of your focus at the moment.
2. Know What You Need to Get to Eventually: The best part about using a Do Not Do list is that, when you’re done with what you’re currently focusing on, you have a list of tasks you need to get to eventually. You can properly schedule and prioritize those things when you’re planning the rest of your workday or your workweek so they don’t go undone but they also don’t undo your productivity flow unnecessarily.
3. Prioritize Tasks Based on Importance: When you make a Do Not Do list, you can clearly prioritize your tasks. Some people find it helpful to put more than just tasks they need to do later on the list but to also include the various distractions that tempt them while they’re busy being productive. From scrolling through social media to walking to the break room for a snack to checking your email to sending a text, you can put these tempting distractions on your Do Not Do list to strengthen your resolve against distractions and stay focused. Then, you can schedule a break to get up, move around, and do one of your Do Not Do distractions when you’re done with what you’re currently working on.
4. Divides Your Workday and Workweek: You can plan out your workday and your workweek ahead of time but that doesn’t mean everything will go according to plan. To reinforce your resolve to stick to the schedule you’ve created and meet deadlines, you can use a Do Not Do list to divide your workday and workweek and keep tasks that are supposed to be done on Wednesday from creeping into your Monday routine and distracting you from the higher priority tasks that need to be done now.
5. Saves You From Dwelling: No one likes to dwell on work in their free time but, sometimes, a task will stick in your head until you write it down. Make sure you don’t forget the things you need to do later and make sure work doesn’t seep into your valuable free time and damage your work-life balance by using a Do Not Do list!
While it may seem counterintuitive, a Do Not Do list can actually help you get more done! Use your time wisely and improve your productivity by using this version of the to do list to clear your focus, prioritize tasks, keep you from dwelling on work, and so much more.