Beyond the "To Do" List

Regardless of what personality type you are, whether you’re male or female, your age, occupation or educational background, at some point in your life you have almost certainly written a “To Do” list. You might not have followed it, but you’ve probably at least written it.

Working within a GTD framework, the team of Productivity Ninjas and the Think Productive UK HQ team have found it enormously helpful to work with Next Action lists and Projects lists rather than a straight “To Do” list. You can read more about that here.

Today, though, we are singing the praises of two other kinds of list: a “Have Done” list, and a “To Don’t” list.

The “To Don’t” list

Initiated by Tom Peters, this kind of list inventories energy-sapping, time-wasting and generally fruitless behaviours and tasks that are best avoided if you want to achieve any semblance of productivity!

Some would goes as far to say that having a “To Don’t” list has changed their lives, and here’s the key as to why – it’s not a static list on a scrappy bit of paper, fading as the days turn into weeks. No no no; this kind of list is rewritten on a weekly basis according to the particular pitfalls, habits and even obligations to be avoided. It’s relevant, making you perhaps painfully aware of just what not to do if you want to live on purpose.

The mantra of the “To Don’t” list is perhaps best summed up as:

“What you decide not to do is probably more important than what you decide to do.”

The “Have Done” list

Have you ever arrived home, talked to a friend or your partner about your day and fallen silent in confusion, not able to recall what you just spent seven and a half hours doing? (Don’t worry, you’re not alone!)

This little gem of a list is brilliant for giving you that often elusive sense of having really achieved something with your day. Rather than just tick things off your “To Do” list, ending the day with a sheet of paper scribbled all over and a head that’s full of all the things you’ve got to do tomororw, begin instead to compile a list of things that you have done, and take a couple of minutes at the end of the day to look back over the list and recall all of those wonderful moments where you completed a task.

Get a “Have Done” list and recognize just how productive you really are, and just how much work you really get done.

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