My name is Lauren Rains, and I’m a chronic TO DO list builder. There! I said it. In the past, I started project after project after project, but rarely finished them. In the past, I’d let myself brainstorm on projects time and time again, without moving forward onto prototyping or testing or researching.
Does this ever sound like you? If so, read on.
The thing is, if you want to make ideas happen – if you want to put your projects, ideas, writing, art, etc out into the world – you have to get disciplined, you have to get focused, and you have to be able to SAY NO to yourself. You have to learn how to WORK SMARTER.
I recently wrote about the 2/3 rule on how say yes or no to new projects and the 3 categories of all projects needed to stay organized. Today, I’m exploring the concept of creating a Not-To-Do List and why it’s such a genius ritual every Creative needs to incorporate into their organization.
What is a Not-To-Do-List?
A Not-To-Do List is a compilation of all the projects, ideas, activities you are going to put on the back-burner and commit to keeping there.
Sounds painful, right? It’s not as bad as you think. In fact, it’s kind of nice.
Initially, the thought of limiting myself to not doing whatever it is my curiosity is peeking at originally sounded like death to me. But after practicing this for about a week, I found it to be freeing.
You have to say no to the projects that are not necessary or smart if you’re ever going to really, truly ship the projects that will build upon the foundation of your body of work.
How to create your own Not-To-Do-List
1.) Create a dump list of at least 20 projects and ideas you’ve found yourself thinking about or working on
2.) Determine what your Primary Aim is at the current moment in your life. (It may be writing and publishing your first or next book, getting involved in your local community through MeetUps, launching your eCommerce site with X amount of inventory, expanding your art store on Etsy etc). You should know what your main priority for a certain period of life is. It will affect what should go on your Not To Do List.
3.) Next to each project, ask yourself if each one will contribute or support your Primary Aim. If your answer is YES, cross it off.
4.) You will now be left over with your Not-To-Do Candidates. Nicely done!
5.) Last but not least, go through the list once more, and re-write your left-over bullet points on a big piece of paper and tape it somewhere you’ll see it.
Here’s the beginnings of my Not To Do List. This list is based on my primary aims over the next 6 months. Some of these were extremely difficult for me to write on this list, but I know they’ll be waiting for me to re-look at in due time. Keeping them on this list gives me permission to say no to them for now, while simultaneously giving me the comfort that it’s not goodbye forever.
We aren’t breaking up. We’re just taking a little break. ;o)
Like I said, this goes back to working smarter and being more effective. Make this a priority in your life. Shift your mindset into believing your are someone that does actually cross items off your list. Furthermore, shift your mindset into believing that just because you’re a creative, doesn’t mean you have to create in chaos. Work Smarter. Work Smarter. Work Smarter. Not Harder. Not Faster. WORK SMARTER.
ADDITIONAL READING FROM OTHER WRITERS:
Below are other resources that have helped me incorporate the Not-To-Do List into my project workflow.
- I want to make a difference in the world. - January 11, 2017
- 4 Alan Watts *Chillstep* Mixes To Ground, Compel, Inspire, and Reveal - January 10, 2017
- Library of Favorite Guided Meditations - January 4, 2017