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Five steps

Try creating a Do-Not list instead of a To-Do list

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” The quote above is from Warren Buffett, an American business man and philanthropist. Don’t take it too literal; living in the now does not mean you should say no to almost everything. However, it does highlight the importance of removing activities that don’t add anything valuable to your life. Because that creates space for activities that DO add something. It may sound a little abstract, which is why I want to ask you to try and create a Do-Not list instead of a To-Do list. In this article I will explain how you can do that.

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This is how you can start a Do-Not list

#1. Pick an activity to remove that doesn’t add any value.
You may already have an activity in mind that you want to put on your Do-Not list. If not, take a look at what your days currently look like. Which activity can you remove from your routine by means of experiment? Watching tv? Playing games on your smartphone? Snacking before dinner? Checking Facebook? 

#2. Know that it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing matter.
If you find it difficult to pick an item for your Do-Not list, try thinking smaller. For example, if you decide not to watch tv on weekdays anymore, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch the Formula 1 race on Sundays. If you want to take a break from playing Animal Crossing on your mobile because it takes up so much of your time, that doesn’t mean you have to delete your account.

#3. Don’t forget your rest.
Just to be clear: this is not about removing every form of rest and relaxation from your life so you can be more productive. It’s about removing a habit that doesn’t add any value (however you want to define that), in order to replace it with a healthier or more productive habit. Rest and relaxation are still important for an intentional life!

#4. Avoid the Do-Not activity for 21 days.
Once you’ve chosen an activity, put it on your Do-Not list for a 21-day experiment. If you’re having trouble sticking to it, remind yourself that it doesn’t mean you can never engage in that activity anymore. Those three weeks offer enough time for you to decide whether you like this or not. If you want to stick to your new normal after the 21 days have past, it also will be a lot easier to continue.

#5. Fill the space you created with an activity that adds value.
Replace watching tv by reading a book. Replace gaming by going for a walk. Replace stalking your ex on social media by art or making music. It’s completely up to you, as long as you consciously think about what you want to replace that bad habit with. Creating a Do-Not list doesn’t mean you will never fall back into old habits. But it can help you to spend your time on things that actually make you happy. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

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