Single Steps Strategies Blog

The “To NOT Do” List

MGM smaller fileBy Mary Grace Musuneggi

Have you ever complained that there is just not enough time in the day? Could you use another day in your week…or maybe a couple extra weeks in your year?

Most life coaches will tell you the best way to get control of your time is to have a daily “to do” list. Being a bit obsessive compulsive, I live off of mine. I always make sure my life has room for personal things—time alone and time with friends, meditation, exercise, and spa visits all appear on my “to do” lists. Of course, when career needs arise and family needs call, those other personal plans go to the back burner. Isn’t that what we women do? We just jump to the occasion. We never quite know how to say “no.”

That’s why the best strategy I have learned for managing my time is to take control of my “to NOT do” list. There are just things I do not like to do, and saying “no” to them is a blessing. I don’t like to walk the mall. I don’t like to golf. So an invite to do either, even from a good friend, gets a resounding “no.” I don’t like participating in organizations or joining committees that don’t have a strong focus on the things I think benefit me, my family, or my community. So they are on my “to not do” list. I have learned that every request for my time and my resources need not be an affront against my sense of fairness. As a result, I do not need to feel guilty if I say “no.”

So it is alright if we need to say “no” to the request to be the den mother, drive another car pool, cook for the community picnic, build the scenery for the school play, write the office newsletter, or join the card group. Our children will survive and prosper. Our community will survive, too. And this will leave more time for us to focus on those things we like to do. On those things we want to do. On those people and things we love. You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you want something done, ask a busy person”…but remember, that busy person does not always need to be you.

Know where your talents lie. Know what you love and what you really want to do. But also know what you don’t know and can’t do, as well as what others can do. I know there are things I can do but others can do easier, faster, and better than I can. So I delegate, saving myself time and energy. And many times, even when I spend money, I save money. I don’t do grass cutting, house painting, car maintenance, or dog grooming. These are at the top of my “to not do” list because talent, expertise, knowledge, and experience are invaluable tools that are worth paying for. And “to not do” these frees up hours, days, even weeks on my “to do” list.

So as you’re working on tomorrow’s “to do” list, try writing “create To Not Do list” at the top. It will be a single step toward a happier, healthier you!

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