How To Create A Not To-Do List To Increase Your Productivity

to-do list, productivity, priorities


Written by: Janet Early

If you’re like most people trying to get organized, you’ve likely created many to-do lists.

This is a great tactic to sort out the priorities in your busy life, but it can also cause overwhelming feelings and stress if you have too much stuff on those lists!

So how about this? Instead of a To-Do List, let’s create a Not To-Do List.

A Not To-Do List (or NTDL if you’re cool) is a list of things you don’t have to do, namely things you’re better off not doing. Sounds amazing, right?

It’s time we liberate you of some of that pile on your plate.

How To Create A Not To-Do List:

1. In a journal, record your activities over the course of a day. This includes everything from getting ready for work to gassing up the car up to having lunch with friends to how many times you check your phone.

2. Next, write down the top 3 things you accomplished that day. These could be professional goals (finished a quarterly project), personal goals (did an hour of cardio and weight-training), or social goals (caught up with a friend you hadn’t seen in awhile).

3. Put a star next to the daily activities that directly or indirectly contributed to one of your goals. For example, eating a healthy lunch helped fuel your hour-long workout, or ranking your projects in order or by priority enabled you to complete the quarterly project.

4. Highlight the items that did NOT in any way help you achieve one of your goals.

5. Write these items in a separate list. THIS is your Not To-Do list! Make a concentrated effort over the next week to reduce these tasks from your daily routine. These may include checking social media multiple times over the course of a day or junk-food snacking during that 4pm lull.

You don’t have to abandon these activities forever. But reducing or eliminating them for one week can enlighten you as to what’s truly helpful in your life and what you can do without.

You will find yourself having more time to be productive as well as more downtime to do the things you enjoy, like spending time with family or reading a stimulating book.

*A note: Make sure not to remove all relaxing activities from your list. We all need to unwind and will ultimately be more productive for it. For example, if you like to lose yourself in a good book at the end of the day or watch your favorite show, keep that if it helps you relax.

If it doesn’t feel fulfilling, then it belongs on your Not To-Do List. Does that chip on your shoulder feel a little lighter now? Hopefully!

Try out the Not To-Do List and let us know how it goes below!

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Janet Early

Janet Early

Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
Janet Early


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