Sit down and take some time to create a not to do list. Write down all those things which you know you are not prepared to do or which are simply not effective things for you to be doing.

Create a Not To Do List

Being prepared ahead of time allows you to make better decisions about what you will do, have a quicker response for those who make demands on your time and remain focused on effective actions.

And don’t get sidetracked into agreeing to do something else. If it is related to your not-to-do list, it probably means don’t volunteer to do it. It’s not that you are being miserable. It’s that you know what your priorities are and you are vigorous about accomplishing them.

“In the same way, today many are harming themselves through the temptation to do more than their limits will allow. Walking, running, and ambition are not necessarily unhealthy. Too much, however, is universally unhealthy. Overload is like that. The problem is not with the ‘load’. The problem is with the ‘over.’”

Richard Swenson, Margin

Five Days of Action

Take some quiet time to answer this question today: What matters? Check last week’s to-do list against your answers to this question.

Today create your not-to-do list. Don’t be ambiguous. Clearly record your thoughts. If it doesn’t stay on the top of mind, refer to your list frequently to avoid being drawn into ineffective or low-priority action.

Anticipate requests that might be made of you, or actions that might require your time. Plan now for your response, particularly to those things that you need to respond “no” to.

If appropriate, create a not-to-do list for your company, organization, team, family or any other grouping you are in. Consult with those involved. This may represent a big step forward.

Get over the guilt of not being able to do everything. You are now much more focused and able to act on the true priorities. This will have a bigger impact for good on the people and causes you care about than having an ineffective list of scattered to-dos.