As a general rule, I don't read listicles. I try to avoid reading anything with a number in the title. Like Six Habits to Develop If You Want To Be Truly Productive by Karen Banes. But I'm a sucker for the word "productive," so there you go.
Buried in this article is an interesting bit about how productive people deal with procrastination. One of the things the author says they do is make Not-to-do Lists. She doesn't go into the subject very deeply, just writing about the things on hers. But it got me thinking.
The Value Of Not-To-Do Lists
Seems kind of ridiculous, doesn't it? Who needs to plan, with an actual written list, for what they're not going to do?
You need to write out what you're not going to do so you have a better chance of committing it to memory. Otherwise, you may very well forget that you're not going to do it and do it. What would be so bad about that, you may ask? A couple of examples:
- You've decided that you're not going to take calls from your sister during the work day. You forget, pick up the phone, and forty-minutes are shot, just like that.
- You've decided you're not going to do any more volunteer work, get an e-mail asking if you can serve on this committee or that, forget and accept, and there goes the better part of a month.
That National Novel Writing Month Connection, Gail?
It's hard to make a not-to-do list for the rest of your life. I mean, seriously, not talk to your sister during the day for decades? As great as that might be for some people, realistically speaking, it's just not going to happen.
But a not-to-do list for a specific unit of time is another thing. If you've assigned yourself a chunk of time to do a certain thing--say, a month to write a first draft of a novel--you're going to need to not do some things so you can get that puppy written.
Two types of activities can end up on a not-to-do list during NaNoWriMo:
Personal Tasks. The line between personal and work time is thin and goes back and forth. A not-to-do list for personal tasks during NaNoWriMo should help keep personal time from overwhelming work time.
- Not going to test drive cars this month
- Not going to shop for Christmas
- Not going to take care of that pile of books on the floor in the living room
- Not going to submit
- Not going to revise other projects
- Not going to start other projects
- Not going to do professional reading
- Not going to do marketing
- Not going to do market research
Doing Less So You Can Do More
Not-to-do lists make it possible for you to do less of a number of things so you can concentrate on doing more of just one.