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  • Not-to-do lists

    I'm an old follower of GTD and Dvid Allen. But, what info is there on having lists of stuff not to do? I know that they're just as important as next action lists, etc, but some guidance on how to work them out would help. I've posted a few thoughts on this in my 2-minute productivity blog: http://visionadvancement.wordpress.c...-be-less-busy/

  • #2
    Just forget it.

    If you don't want to do it do not put it on any list. Just forget it.

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    • #3
      Actually, I have to disagree with TesTeq here, for once!

      If you just don't put it on a list, it may still crop up in your mind again and again.

      If it's something you want to do later, it goes on your Someday/Maybe list. If it's something you never want to do, then I'd say it becomes a checklist or reminder attached to whatever sphere of work to which it applies.

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      • #4
        What do you see as the difference between a not-to-do list and a someday/maybe list?

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        • #5
          re: Not-To-Do-List vs. Not-Doing

          David Allen says the lists can be precisely for just that -- not to do them. As long as there are no fires to put out and you have reviewed your lists enough to know that you don't *have* to do anything on them -- that's the freedom having everything captured and defined affords. You can do something else (or nothing else) because you know everything you aren't doing on your lists.

          So if you are practicing GTD according to David Allen, there will be times when your entire inventory of projects, next actions, waiting fors, and reading will be just that: not-to-do-lists.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Day Owl View Post
            What do you see as the difference between a not-to-do list and a someday/maybe list?
            Possible examples:
            • When disagreeing with someone on a forum, never reply immediately.
            • Never visit certain time-wasting or morally destructive websites.
            • Don't feed the dog scraps from the table.

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            • #7
              I was uncertain also if the not-to-do list is a not-to-do-NOW list which could include things on your s/m list, or a not-to-do-EVER list which I would put into reference.

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              • #8
                Brent, after doing a time check, I see that my earlier question could have been misinterpreted as a disagreement with you. If so (or if this statement right here is a misinterpretation), my apologies. I was addressing the original poster, and it was a serious question, asked in good faith.
                Last edited by Day Owl; 02-24-2009, 11:27 AM. Reason: clarity

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brent View Post
                  Possible examples:
                  • When disagreeing with someone on a forum, never reply immediately.
                  • Never visit certain time-wasting or morally destructive websites.
                  • Don't feed the dog scraps from the table.
                  I'd be inclined to turn these around and make them into positive actions for breaking these bad habits, because reminders that don't actually tell me to do anything would tend to make me ignore my lists.

                  Or I'd take them out of GTD and show them to myself elsewhere, maybe as a big reminder printout in my work area or something.

                  So, for the habit breaking, I might do:

                  Project: Eliminate time spent on problem websites
                  Action: Remove problem-website bookmarks from bookmark list.
                  Action: Evaluate browser bookmarks and decide whether they should be removed as being problematic. (repeating, weekly)
                  Action: Write actions for an investigation of net nanny software as a possible tool to discourage me from accessing problem websites.

                  (A side note: Does anyone else ever write actions directing yourself to write actions, as in the last one above? I do this all the time.)

                  Project: Break the habit of feeding the dog scraps from the table.
                  Action: Browse dog obedience books at bookstore.
                  Action: Research baby gates for keeping dog out of dining room.

                  Gardener

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                  • #10
                    Our unconcious mind ignores "do not".

                    Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                    I'd be inclined to turn these around and make them into positive actions for breaking these bad habits, because reminders that don't actually tell me to do anything would tend to make me ignore my lists.
                    I totally agree. Our unconcious mind ignores the "do not" part so - by creating the "do not do this" list - we end up with bad habits affirmations.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                      I'd be inclined to turn these around and make them into positive actions for breaking these bad habits, because reminders that don't actually tell me to do anything would tend to make me ignore my lists.
                      I agree, in general! However, consider an addiction to a particular website. Let's say I found myself spending hours on Fark.com every day. Even if I removed it from my browser bookmarks, nothing prevents me from typing "fark.com" into my browser's address bar. And I can do that anywhere I have an internet connection; you can't exactly get away from web browsers these days.

                      For that sort of situation, again, a checklist or reminder of some kind ("Fark wastes my time!" popping up every day, for example) would be my solution.

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                      • #12
                        I'm a fan of JoesGoals.com, which allows you to track both positive and negative habits.

                        You could track all your habits there, and just create a repeating action to update it. Then you're reminded of your habits every day.

                        I have a lot of projects that require repeated habits (for example, getting my black belt in karate requires daily practice).

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent View Post
                          "Fark wastes my time!"
                          What about
                          "My activities are aligned with my vision."
                          "I enjoy being a champion executer!"

                          and imagining the feelings you get at the end of a gratifying day?

                          In my experience, purposeless browsing makes me immediately uncomfortable ever since I have kept telling myself something like the above. I do visit such websites rarely and start running down the rabbit hole, but within moments there is a pressure from within to stop. I simply give in. Earlier, any reminders of the negative kind only built a guilt, but did not have a permanent effect.

                          Regards,
                          Abhay

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