Why You Need a Not-To-Do List

Life is busy, right?

Hands up if you don’t feel like you have enough time in your day. Hmmm. Lots of women I know are rushing around trying to do all the things. Careers, families, kids’ stuff, partners, work stuff. And only looking after themselves in the leftover time.

Of which there is very little.

The Everyday Advent

But plenty of people also complain about some of the things they have to get done. I’ve referred before to the example of my friend who gets coerced into spending time with her husband’s brother’s girlfriend, who she doesn’t even like. That’s the perfect example of what to put on your not-to-do list!

My amazing coach, who I’ve also mentioned before, gave me an exercise to do.

I had to write down every single thing I thought I should do in a day. Starting with getting out of bed, ending with getting back into bed, and including everyday activities like having a shower.

A highlights reel of my ‘shoulds’ included:

  • Do yoga
  • Exercise
  • Go for a walk
  • Eat healthy food
  • Cook everything from sratch
  • Let the little dude play in the bath as long as he likes
  • Read
  • Read to the little dude
  • Eat dinner at the table with the hubster
  • Shower, dress, brush my teeth
  • Do my hip physio exercises
  • Meditate
  • Tidy up
  • Write 1000 words
  • Speak on the phone to a friend
  • Go out with friends
  • Do some clothes washing and hang it up
  • Unstack the dishwasher
  • Spend quality time with my husband
  • Play with the kidlet

And that’s not even the full list!

By the time I got to the end of the list I was bawling. One, because no human could possibly do everything on my I-should-do list in one day. Two, because I had turned even the things I LIKE to do (like going out with friends) into things I ‘should’ do, so then I felt guilty when I didn’t do it.

What a wonderful way to suck the joy out of everything I was doing, and put an insurmountable amount of pressure on myself!

I challenge you now to try the exercise. Write down everything you think you should do in a day.

It may surprise you what comes out of it. Before I did it, I didn’t think I had a problem with feeling guilt or doing things I don’t want to do. After I did it I realised what an unbelievable amount of pressure I was putting on myself every day!

Enter the not-to-do list!

I’ve talked before about how having a baby refocused me so that things I wasn’t totally in love with got booted. But I also say, why wait until you hit as absolute low point (as I did after I had the little dude) before you start to make positive changes!

So I want you to write three things from your shoulds list on your not-to-do list.

  • Maybe there’s a work meeting that’s completely unproductive that you can delegate to someone else.
  • Maybe there’s something around the house that you can let go, and just not worry about the tidiness too much.
  • Maybe there’s a friend who makes you feel awful every time you catch up.
  • Maybe you’re wasting valuable time doing an activity that you don’t really even like any more.

It’s totally up to you.

Write them down. Start saying no. Free up the only thing we can never replace and fill that time with people and activities that make your heart sing!

Comment below, what did you put on your not-to-do list? I’d love to know.

Xx Sam


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2 Comments on Why You Need a Not-To-Do List

  1. Samantha Nolan-Smith
    November 20, 2014 at 8:50 AM (3 years ago)

    Hurray! Happy to see the word spreading about getting rid of your ‘shoulds’!! (And thanks for the shout out xx)

    • samantha
      November 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM (3 years ago)

      It’s SUCH a powerful tool, I had to share it! 😀


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