Increase Your Productivity With a Do-Not-Do List

With all of the things that are trying to grab our attention these days, do you feel like you don’t have the time to get the important things done and do the things that you want to do?

If you are one of the many people out there who is overwhelmed by their always growing to-do list, I want to help you regain control over your workload by helping you make better choices.  Since you only have so much time to get things done, you need to CHOOSE what gets done and what needs to be delayed or eliminated from your schedule.

Many productivity and time-management experts say the most helpful list you may ever create is one outlining what not to do. “Do-not-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance in the office.  


The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

The idea is to list all the activities you are intentionally going to stop doing for the sake of greater productivity.  This is a list of activities that are time-wasters, your list of people not to talk to because they’re time vampires, your do-not-eat list, your not-to-have-in the office list, etc. 


There are 2 ways to figure out what should go on your do-not-do-list.

1. The first step in deciding what not to do in your life is zeroing in on what you ultimately want to achieve. “If you really get clear about your real goals, visions and values, it will be easier to cut the extraneous things off your lists that aren’t that purposeful for you,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.

2. The second way to figure out what not-to-do is to time track.  Write down on the left hand side of a piece of paper the day’s times in 15-minute increments   (9, 9:15, 9:30). As your day goes along, write down what you’re doing at that time all day long so you can identify things that you may be wasting too much time on in the office. By taking a realistic look at how you spend your time, you can determine which activities don’t yield valuable results in return for the time and effort they require. Then, you can cut those time-wasters out of your life.


Let’s take you through some examples. Again, I encourage you to keep in mind what you ultimately want to achieve (goals, vision, and values) as you are making your list.

1. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

2. Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only

3. Do not carry around my cellphone 24/7

4. Do not check facebook until I get home from work

5. Do not get donuts when I take a coffee break


Get the idea?

When you get stuck on your not-to-do list, you waste time and end the day frustrated because you didn’t get as much done as you could have.  Make your list and post it where you can always see it to remind yourself of what you should not be doing.  Enlist the support of co-workers, family, or friends to help keep you on track.  If you find yourself doing something on your do-not-do list, get up, walk around, refocus, and then get back after your important to-do list items.  Good luck!

I’d love to hear what makes your list!  Please email me your list at [email protected]  

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Mandy Green is a mother of two and has coached soccer at the collegiate and youth levels for 16 years. She is the creator of Coaching Productivity Strategies and author of The Green Time Management Workbook and Planner for Coaches. Mandy helps coaches prioritize and organize their tasks so they can get more work done in less time.

Release Date: Mar 18 2015

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