what's on your not-to-do list

What’s on your ‘not-to-do’ list for 2022? [PMP #237]

It’s the time of year where most people are setting goals and resolutions for the next 12 months. Having a plan of where you want to be and what you’d like to achieve over the next year is great. But equally important is deciding what NOT to do this year.

In the past, I’ve talked about how to get better at saying ‘no’. Well, creating a ‘not to-do’ list is a great way of making sure you don’t take on too many commitments or spend time on the wrong things.

Don't want to read this post? Listen to the podcast instead:

Having a ‘not to-do’ list is something I first came across via Tim Ferriss. I can’t remember if it was one of his books or a podcast but as someone who’s all about optimising their time, this idea of creating a list of things you’re not going to do this year really resonates with me. And this idea can be applied to any aspect of your life: work, home, health, fitness, hobbies, travel, habits etc.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What do you want to do less of at work? Are there any aspects of your job you wish you could stop doing?
  • What should you stop eating or drinking?
  • What is the #1 household chore you hate to do? e.g. mowing the grass, laundry, cleaning the car.
  • What habits are hurting you? e.g. screen time, drinking, smoking, sitting while you work.
  • Do you have any personal commitments you’d like to end?
  • What was the unhappiest moment you experienced last year (that was within your control)?
  • What are you spending too much money on that you know you shouldn't?

To help in the creation of your not-to-do list, look back at your calendar, project management tool, old journals, even photos to identify the things you’d like to do less of in 2022.

One of the things I’d like to stop doing this year is one-on-one consulting calls. This isn’t going to be easy as my business is very dependent on my personal brand. But towards the end of last year, I got a few contractors in place that has really helped me to free up time and offer more availability to clients. Now it’s on me to enforce this new rule and book clients with the team, rather than me.

We also decided last year that we’re not going to take on any project that we don't believe in. Last year we were approached by one or two clients who asked us to build integrations with Zapier. Normally we’ll suggest how to make the integration work in the best way but in a few cases, clients were quite firm on what they wanted. We took on the projects anyway and built exactly what they were asking for. We learned that projects like this can lead to issues down the road and if you don't believe in the solution, it’s better to refer the client elsewhere.

It may not be possible to completely stop doing everything on your list. But it’s an interesting thought exercise that may help you to come up with alternative solutions. For example, I hate mowing the grass. It just feels like time I could have used to relax or do other things. But it has to be done. So, about 6 years ago I decided that I would outsource this chore and pay someone else to cut the grass every two weeks rather than having to do this myself.

Maybe you hate being pulled into meetings at work. Or maybe there’s some part of your job you simply don’t enjoy. If so, why not start a conversation with your boss about how to reduce the hours spent on these things.

I’d love to hear what’s on your not-to-do list. Feel free to share the things you’re going to stop doing in 2022 in the comments below!