The To Don't List

The To Don't List
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

The highlight of my work-week this week was identifying Two pieces of work that I don't need to do. Initially i'd thought they were important and needed to be done, and worried about how i would do them and fit them in amongst everything else. But then, as it turned out, i realised i didn't need to do them.

Removing work to be done is good work. There is only so much time, energy, attention, creativity, care, interest and capacity that one person has at any one time. Being ruthless on removing things from my todo list (or inversely, adding them to my 'To Don't List') is an essential activity that benefits me, my work-life balance, my well-being, but also my colleagues, my clients and stakeholders, because it means i can focus that finite energy on the most important things.

This all sounds very obvious, and yet its striking to me that this week, the action of actively deciding to not do a couple of things was such a prominent thing that a) I recognised it, b) I tweeted about it c) that tweet resonated with other people and d) i'm now writing a short blog post about it.

And for me, i think there is a subtle but important difference between actively deciding that something doesn't need to be done and saying no. in a way, saying no is a response or reactive mode, it implies that someone else has the majority of agency and that yours is limited to a boolean response. Picking up an object, having a good look at it, understanding it, its points and edges, its size and heft, its value, then deciding to lob it over your shoulder, feels like a more active, positive and empowering act.

So, the question is, what are we going to decide not to do next week?