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Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Have a ‘Not to Do’ list

Having a to do list is a long-established and very wise idea. It is so very easy to forget about something that you need to do. Important things can slip away if we have not made a note of them. One key advantage of having a to do list is that, when it gets too long, it is giving us two important messages:

  1. We may be trying to do too much and thereby be overstretching ourselves, On my Time and Workload Management e-learning course, I talk about four important principles, and one of those is: Too much work is too much – that is, we all have limits to what we can reasonably get through in terms of work or other tasks. Spreading ourselves too thinly is never a wise move and can create a number of significant problems.
  2. We should be thinking about prioritising. If it looks as though we can’t realistically get through all the tasks on the list, then we should at least make sure that we do the most important tasks first. That way, the tasks that don’t get done will be the least important ones. Sadly, it is not uncommon for people under pressure to fail to prioritise and to end up doing less important tasks, while the more important ones don’t get done. As you can imagine, this can be potentially disastrous.

So, there is no doubt that to do lists can be very valuable tools if used properly. But where does having a ‘Not to Do’ list come into the picture? Well, what you will find is that most people will do some things that are either not a useful thing to do or that are actually counterproductive.

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