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20 Things That Everyone Should Have In the To Don’t List

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20 Things That Everyone Should Have In the To Don’t List

In our everyday lives we have learned how to be efficient by making a to do list. These not only enable us to remember the important matters that need action, but also help us release an emotional burden when we check off or cross out the things we have accomplished.

But are we really effective in making our to do lists? Sometimes we ask ourselves why, in spite of the to do list, we still cram and rush to beat deadlines. Is it because even though we do our to do list, we also do things we ought not to do?

Maybe it’s time to have a to don’t list so we can live better-quality lives. Check out these 20 things everyone should have in a to don’t list: things that you like doing but you don’t need to do; things that you keep doing but that are not that important; or things that you thought you needed to do but that are not really necessary.

Regarding your outlook in life

1. Don’t look at things from a single or short-term perspective.

Like a putting together a puzzle, imagine what the big picture is in any situation.

Don’t be carried away by the urgency of things and be pressured to give attention to something that is only needed momentarily. Think of its impact on a bigger scale and in the long term.

2. Don’t conform to what everyone else does or what everyone else chooses.

Answer your calling. Be unique. Challenge yourself. Do not be afraid to be different.

Just because everyone else is going into a particular field, don’t join the bandwagon if you feel you are better suited to something else.

3. Don’t be carried away by the mediocrity of others.

Stand up for your own principles. Raise the bar of expectation. Don’t conform to the general practice if it doesn’t satisfy your standards.

If you feel there is a better way of doing things, then go ahead and experiment. Ask yourself: “Is there a better way of doing things? Is there a room for improvement? Is there a way to make things fun and innovative?”

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4. Don’t just be on the receiving end.

In any endeavor it’s always a give and take. You have to find a way to contribute according to your status in a group, community or team. Every member of the team is an essential part and therefore no task or duty is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

5. Don’t wait for the perfect time.

Fear holds us back from trying new things or pursuing a dream. There is never the best time to do what you have always wanted to do.

Trial and error is the better option. Start doing. Learn from your mistakes.

6. Don’t try to hold on to everything.

Not everything that worked before will necessarily work now. Be open to change. Be observant and take note if something doesn’t work anymore. Embrace ‘newness.’

7. Don’t judge before you have tried to understand.

It’s easy to immediately jump to a conclusion based on what we already know. That’s prejudgment or bias.

Face ideas, opinions and people with an open mind. Seek to understand and you will discover there’s a lot more to human understanding and harmony.

Regarding productivity

8. Don’t spend too much time on your to do list.

Okay, perhaps when you do your to do list for the first time, it’s understandable if you are excited and careful. But when you do this every day, you cannot spend more time on it than you have to. Though there can’t be a general rule on how much time to spend on your list, looking at it for more than 15 minutes is just a waste of time.

Regarding relationships

9. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you in very tense situations.

Strength of character is not demonstrated by your ability to scare people or make a scene. If you give in to emotional outbursts when under pressure, even if you have an excuse, it will simply come back to haunt you and you will regret it.

10. Don’t ignore your loved ones, family and friends, in spite of your busy day.

Every single day, spend time with those special to you, whether it’s through quality face-to-face time, or a few minutes of talking on the phone if they are far away. Worst case scenario: you should be able to think of them, glance at their photos or simply cherish missing them.

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11. Don’t let your pet peeves get in the way of your relationships.

Grammar, cleanliness, standard operating procedures, or whatever else you have as a pet peeve, no matter how much you are required to follow these to the letter, they should not be a reason to turn a relationship sour.

There is always a good way to say things. There is always a better way to put it. There are also times when you can let go of the less important obsessions. After all, what is more important?

12. Don’t be a slave driver.

No matter how much we have a passion for excellence, it cannot be used to justify a drive to get people to run to exhaustion point in their work, to develop tension in their relationships, or to feel pressure to abandon personal commitments for their career or something else.

Have a balance of work and rest for your team. Do not accept unreasonable deadlines if they will sacrifice the quality of output and the team’s balance between work and personal lives.

13. Don’t deny your emotions.

Be grounded with your feelings. Open your heart and have time to reflect and feel what is there going on inside. Not that you will just follow your heart. Listen to it. Reflect on how to harmonize the heart and the mind.

If you feel a negative emotion, acknowledge it, feel it and find ways to express it appropriately. Afterwards, you will be able to move on with a reasonable action.

Regarding personal development

14. Don’t try to be perfect and flawless.

As the song from the recent Disney movie, Frozen, advises, “Let it go.” We need to let go of strident perfectionism. Yes, we have to strive for our best, but we cannot hold back because we think we are not ready and it’s not the ‘perfect time.’

Prepare for a task, be ready for a challenge, do your homework judiciously. And that should be enough to move on.

15. Don’t be too nice. That just gives others reason to ask for more.

If you are naturally Mr Nice or Ms Congeniality, you have to tone it down and give yourself some justice. Set your boundaries. Learn to say no when enough is enough. Oftentimes, being nice and not knowing how to say no leads to abuse (whether intentional or not).

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Remember: we cannot please everybody.

16. Don’t be intimidated by seemingly powerful characters, because they only know how to act.

Some people are good at making themselves visible to important people, playing politics to get what they want, or leaving a stunning impression on everyone. Some of these people are legitimate, but many are simply show-offs.

Do not be intimidated by them. Find your own confidence, get yourself noticed and most importantly do your job well.

Regarding peace of mind

17. Don’t brood over your mistakes.

It is but natural to feel guilty for our mistakes. Whether petty or big, many of us cannot let go of the thought: “What could have been if only…?”

Let go! For petty things, turn cold turkey and just move on. For big mistakes, reflect on what went wrong, talk it out to a trusted confidant and learn from the experience.

18. Don’t let your mind wander in little free moments.

We have a lot of free moments: while waiting for our meeting to start, while waiting for the train, while walking on the street, etc.

While nowadays gadgets have taken over these moments, we have an alternative to this. For example, think of the things you need to do that are not yet in the to do list; think of how you can do certain tasks better and be more efficient in them. Write down the fruits of your thoughts and apply as appropriate.

When possible, reading a book is another alternative.

Regarding time wasters

19. Don’t spend too much time on social networks.

We are a generation of Facebook users. Haven’t you noticed that there’s only so much we can get out of it in terms of gossiping and stalking? Imagine your day without Facebook. Would it make any difference?

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As I have written in the past and say again now: Use social networks for only 15 minutes a day.

20. Don’t spend too much time on the gadgets and toys.

We are also a generation of gadget-users—tablets, smartphones and what have you. There seems no more time when we are unoccupied. And unfortunately, there is no more time for the beautiful moments of life—such as enjoying the view while traveling, or socializing with our friends—because we are all so busy with our gadgets!

Set aside some time and space to use your gadgets. Then you can be free to spend time talking to the people you love or work with, and find the means to enjoy (or learn to!) viewing daily life wherever you go.

A challenge to you

Which item in the to don’t list resonates most with you? How do you intend to act upon this?

I would like to challenge you to stop doing at least one of the items above that is most relevant to you. Tell us how you go in the comments below, or if you are serious enough about making a self-improvement move, send me an email and share how you will change yourself with a to don’t.

Featured photo credit: kimb

Featured photo credit: Elsie esq via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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