November 23, 2012 | Barb Carr

Career Development: The Power of a Do-Not-Do List

Let’s expand on something we discussed last week regarding planning and productivity. It seems silly to record your useless activities (Quadrant IV) when prioritizing and managing your time, doesn’t it? Recent studies, however, reveal that creating a “Do Not Do List” is one of the habits that skyrockets a good company to a great one.

Here’s Why:

“The biggest time management mistake people make is not realizing how much time they waste,” says Peggy Duncan, productivity expert. When we’re honest about our activities and whether they really further our goals, we can see where we’re wasting time and be proactive about it. We can eliminate time-wasters and spend more time doing what is productive, meaningful, and rejuvenating to us.

Harness the Power of the Do-Not-Do List:

Write it Down. First, take out your Urgent/Important Matrix from last week, and look at Quadrants III and IV. If you haven’t done this, simply write down every activity you do in a day.

Pin it Up. Write all of your time wasters on a separate list and post it in your office/home to remind yourself what is not effective for you to spend time on. Post an additional list of your important & useful (Quadrant II) activities so you know what to do instead that will truly further your goals.

Replace Bad Habits. Don’t simply tell yourself “STOP!” but replace that activity with a beneficial Quadrant II one. For example, when I find myself mindlessly browsing on the internet to “relax” at home, I remind myself how much more refreshing it is to go for a walk or read a favorite novel instead. This way, I am more motivated to change my habits, because I see the benefits of doing so.

Keep the Good Eggs. Some activities on your list might be potentially beneficial but not worth doing now, like planning Christmas gifts in August. We suggest you make a running list of your great ideas and re-evaluate it every month to see if it’s time to start working on some of those fantastic projects.

My examples are from my home life, but this technique is even more crucial to master at work.

What are some of your time-wasters at work? How will you change your habits?

Tell us below in the comments:

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