To-do or To-don’t?

To-do lists had made a huge difference for Carol…

“It’s been great! I’m getting way more done than ever before!”

“That’s great,” I replied, “but I hear a little frustration in your voice.”

“Well…I really thought that my to-do list would start to get smaller and more manageable as I applied everything you’ve taught me, but I’m still doing all kinds of things that I don’t want to do.”

Carol became a client because she was discouraged by her inability to increase her productivity. She could easily describe her vision for life and really blossomed when we discussed how to take her vision and break into action steps. The final piece was my material on how to layout and schedule her day according to vision priorities.

Prior to working together, Carol spent most days doing a lot but not getting a lot done. She never seemed to get closer to fulfillment. She was always busy but seldom productive. Can you relate?

I’ve never met anyone that couldn’t fill a to-do list to the brim. 98% of the population, however, do not make sure that those tasks are productive and moving them closer to the life they envision.

By the time Carol and I had the conversation above, she knew how to take her vision, turn those priorities into tangible tasks, and lay them into her schedule to make sure they got done. Her ability to get more done in a week went through the roof and her company began growing rapidly as a result. That’s when she began to freak out and we discovered the problem.

By looking at her calendar for the previous two weeks and her to-do list for the coming week, I noticed something glaring at me. “Carol…this schedule is absolutely packed!” I noted. “As your company and life continue to grow, where are you going to put any of the other things that are part of your vision?”

“I don’t understand what you mean?” she said reflectively, “I haven’t added anything to my list that doesn’t get me closer to my vision.”

“Maybe not…but what have you taken off?”

The silence was enough to know we were on the right track. When looking at the life of our dreams and everything it contains, our first instinct is to add tasks, habits, and more to make it happen. That’s only part of the equation.

Remember, we are talking about the life we REALLY want. That means there are things about our lives currently that we want to change or improve. When you understand this concept you can more easily see part of Carol’s dilemma. She was adding the things she needed to-do to accomplish her vision, but not removing things that didn’t align with her vision.

Carol needed to make a To-Don’t list.

To-don’ts are the tasks we either don’t like to do, don’t contribute to our goals, or we aren’t the ones who should be doing them. Identifying to-don’ts is as important as understanding to-do’s, though not always as easy to implement.

Especially in the case of a business owner like Carol, her personality demands that things get done and that she should be the one doing them all. This method is extremely good for making sure that you never grow your business and die a miserable wreck.

The objective of creating steps to your vision is to put the RIGHT tasks on your list, not just more. I’ve had numerous clients that didn’t have to add much to get on track. We spent most of our energy on removing to-don’ts so the to-do’s could breathe. So how can you begin identifying to-don’ts?

When you look at your current tasks:

  • Which ones do you dread? (Do you see yourself doing them in your ideal vision?)
  • Which ones could someone else easily do? (Free yourself for higher pursuits.)
  • Which ones are someone else’s expectations? (Are they really necessary for progress?)
  • Does the task bring you closer to your ideal or just fill space? (Busy or productive?)
  • Which ones always derail your concentration or create unnecessary stress?

Take this list of to-don’ts and make them a part of your plan. Not so you can include them in your schedule, but so you can eliminate or transition them out. Regardless of the size of your business, you can make a plan to implement your to-don’t list. In fact, it is one of the most important things you can do to ensure business and personal growth.

For every to-don’t you allow to stay on your schedule, you prevent a truly productive and rewarding task from making the cut. Every time you force yourself through a to-don’t, without a plan for getting rid of it, you’ll build resentment, which drains your energy and dulls your effectiveness.

Excitement and clarity about the life you want to live and the business you want to build is a needed piece of success. Through this vision, you can identify and implement the tasks you’ll accomplish to get there. Just as important, identify the tasks that do not belong in your vision and work your plan to make them go away.

Be your best,


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