Time management Monday: NOT To-Do List

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Jogging in the park

Take a minute to think about things you WANT to do. You can think of these as your goals, your intentions, your ambitions, your personal aspirations. Or maybe it’s just a matter of finally reading the books you’ve always wanted to read, learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. Make a list of those things you want to do.

Now think about your average week and month. What is your schedule like? Is it pretty full? How do you spend your free time?

The simple fact is, everyone only has 24 hours each day. If you want to add something to your time, you have to take something else away.

This is where you have to get ruthless with priorities. What is more important to you? Your new goals? Or doing things the way you’ve always done them?

Remember: if you want to add something new, you’ll have to take something else away. What will that be?

Think in detail about all the things you do in an average week and month. All of your tasks and activities, big and small. Think about how much time you spend on each one.

Now write a list of your lowest-priority tasks and activities. Which things are less important to you?

This is where it starts to get difficult. We all do things we could probably spend less time doing, like looking at things online or social media. Write those down, and think of ways you could spend less time doing those things so you can spend time doing more meaningful things.

What else do you do that has less meaning to you? For example, maybe you participate in a group or activity that is less important to you than other things you do (or other things you want to start doing).

This doesn’t mean it has no value; you wouldn’t be doing it in the first place if that were the case. But if it has less meaning to you than other things you want to do, add it to your Low-Priority list.

Finish writing all of your low-priority activities, and think about how you can spend less time on these. Some you can eliminate entirely; some you can spend less time on. Maybe you can take a smaller role that is less time-consuming. Think about how much more time you’ll have for the things you REALLY want to do when you cut down on these low-value tasks.

Remember it’s easy to fall back into old habits. You’ll have to make conscious choices to read a book instead of spending another half hour on social media, for example.

Put your NOT To-Do list someplace where you will see it often, to remind yourself to cut down on these activities, so you can spend your time doing what you really want to do instead.

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