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

20 Things That Everyone Should Have In the To Don’t List
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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