Write a “not-to-do” list to keep you focused

Freelancing in almost any field is tough, you are your own boss, which is great, but that means there’s generally no one watching over your shoulder to make sure you get the job done. You have to make you stay focused. You have concentrate. You have to be self-motivating. Stick to deadlines. Yada, yada, yada.

But, according to Lifehack, if you take a moment to sit back and list everything that distracts you during those hours you otherwise set aside to do your freelancing, you will no doubt be rather shocked to find that you have as long a list of things that help you procrastinate as make you productive.

There’s always, email to check, spam to filter, a TV new bulletin to watch, good old fashioned surfing the net to take part in, and perhaps for some good old fashioned surfing. There are always apps to update, recycling bins to empty, malware to scan for, podcasts to listen to, a guitar to strum, a banjo string to pluck. It can be endless. Tom Ewer on Lifehack suggests creating a list of Banished Tasks to keep you on the straight and narrow to ensure your work ethic doesn’t get pathetic.

Rather than listing banished tasks, I’d prefer to say write yourself a “not-to-do” list. It’s the opposite of a to-do list. A to-do list is the bane of time management, but sticking to your not-to-do list leaves you free to get done the jobs you’d normally put on its positive counterpart.

Without wishing to give you another excuse to procrastinate, why not tell us what’s going on your “not-to-do” list?

2 thoughts on “Write a “not-to-do” list to keep you focused”

  1. For me its housework. I feel so torn. Do I stick ot my work and let my house become a pigsty? Or do I take care of my home and have liltte time leftover to work. Housework feels like such an essential, yet I recongnize it takes up the time I would have to write. I’ve been trying to be more judious with cleaning, trying to decide what really needs to be done that week and what can wait. No matter which chores I choose to do, I feel guilty about the ones not being done. I will have to make a list of household chores, but some things are going to have to be done eventually.

  2. I love the idea of the “not-to-do” list! I am a self-employed environmental scientist who spends most of the time writing technical reports after performing field tasks. I used to be more disciplined when I was younger and had less distractions (hard to believe). Now, with the internet, I find myself closing windows, surfing, reading emails, and exploring topics not remotely related to my mundane technical writing. I will reach over to my ukulele, strum a few songs, and take a break when in reality an hour has passed already! I think I need the list taped to my screen to keep me straight.

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