The NOT to-do list

Ok so last week was probably the most extreme week for seismic shifts in the way we live, ever. We’ve all been thrown into a new reality where our world has shrunk, some people have tragically lost loved ones, lost their jobs or for those still privileged enough to be working, we will do this from home…potentially with kids. I’m going to be honest, over the weekend I found the changes overwhelming. I had a zillion things going around in my head. I’ve been creating mental lists of stuff I need to get organised – clear the house so that I have some space to work, get a structure in place so that my husband and I know who is doing what with our two boys, trying to sort out if we have enough food, meal planning, activity planning, cleaning, running a business – shizers, my head was about to explode. And then I thought, I’ll make a NOT to do-list. I know most of you are thinking WTF, a NOT to-do list. Let me explain how this works.

There’s nothing more satisfying than writing a to-do list and then ticking off the tasks as you work through them. In fact, even the act of writing the list makes you feel like you’re more organised, together and getting on top of things. I can see most of you nodding your heads to this right now. I love a to-do list like the best of them.

However, there’s an issue with to-do lists. More often that not, the tasks that we write down are not the right ones to be focusing on. So, you end up with a very long list of errands and admin tasks that might need to be done at some point, but aren’t actually that important. This is so true, I tend to focus on the stuff that I haven’t done for yonks. Well there is a reason why it hasn’t been done for yonks – because it’s not that important.

It’ll keep you busy, working through this list. And ticking off all those things that are constantly there at the back of your mind, niggling away, might offer some relief. But — believe it or not — it won’t actually be productive. It’ll be quite the opposite. And let’s face it, right now we do not need to put ourselves under pressure to ‘get shit done’ immediately. We have time. Let’s slow down.

With this in mind I’ve create a NOT-to-list for this week. My first week WFH with the kids. I will not:

  • worry about tidying the house during the day
  • work through my lunch break
  • work later than 8pm.
  • sit at my desk for longer than one hour without having a break
  • stress about the laundry basket over flowing
  • nag my husband
  • worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on what I can do

Ahhhh, feels good to write down so that I have some clear boundaries for myself.  Now it’s still important to have a to-do list. Here’s some tips.

Try to stick to only ever having 3 tasks on your to-do-list and write these daily.  Think about what are the 3 most important tasks.  Not urgent.  Important.

  • Daily list – spend five minutes every evening to prep for the day ahead or do this first thing in the morning (before you do anything else). Only ever put 3 things on your to-do-list.
  • Make the task meaningful and actionable. g. putting down ‘CV’ as a task is too open.  Be specific.
    • Monday, it could be to review CV and finish first draft.
    • Tuesday could be share CV with ex-boss for feedback.
    • Wednesday could be review feedback and finish final version of CV, then send to company x.

Remember to be kind to yourself by not trying to do too much right now. This is a crazy time. Slow down.

Kim x

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