In addition to having a to-do list, it’s also very beneficial to create a list of activities and habits not to do. This way, you can start breaking bad habits in order to free up time and energy to focus on good habits and creative work. Bestselling author, entrepreneur, and angel investor Tim Ferriss writes:

‘Not-to-do’ lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

Here’s his Not-to-do list:

1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers

2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night

3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time

4. Do not let people ramble

5. Do not check e-mail constantly — “batch” and check at set times only

6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers

7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm — prioritize

8. Do not carry a cellphone or “Crackberry” 24/7

9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should

Ferriss’ list is a great starting point, but it’s also important to tailor your not-to-do list to you. Other not-to-do items can include not checking social networks till a certain time, or limiting the amount and type of media consumed throughout the day.

  • trw

    Great list, but I don’t understand #7…

    • Jeffery

      I think for #7 he means don’t work harder to through overwhelming amounts of work. Instead, prioritize what matters.

      • http://twitter.com/HerbertLui Herbert Lui

        Hit it on the nose with a hammer, Jeffery.

    • http://www.keaneandable.com/ Anthony Keane

      trw – If you take a look at Tim’s original blog (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/08/16/the-not-to-do-list-9-habits-to-stop-now/) he explains #7 Prioritize in more detail – the key is to decide on what’s important over what’s urgent and act on the important, not the urgent.

    • Evan85

      Agree. the sentence doesn’t make sense because ‘overwhelm’ is not a noun. You can’t ‘fix overwhelm’ any more than ‘fix eat’ or ‘fix throw’. I had to read it maybe five times to get it.

  • markwguay

    So important in a world with such heightened connectivity. It’s sad to see how distracted people become with a “crackberry”. It’s a lot easier to just stare at a TV all day. It’s a lot easier to just text or check email all day. “Waiting”, like Dr. Seuss would say.

  • Emilia

    Love this list. Have been trying to practice many of these do not dos and some days are better than others but I am always conscious when I have done something I should not have. That’s the key thing end of the day, being conscious of your actions and thinking about these actions and their consequences.

  • Half Asleep Studio

    Fantastic idea! I can think of quite a few things. I like the idea of not checking e-mail first thing in the morning, and taking time to take care of yourself first (especially when you work from home). Definitely coming up with a list for myself & putting it up where I can see!

  • http://www.oftreesandhues.com/ Latrina M.

    Wow. What a brilliant idea! And the crazy thing is… I never thought about doing this. Thank you! I can immediately think of a ton of things I shouldn’t be doing. I think this will lead to an even more productive day. Much thanks! 🙂

  • mclemay

    Boy, do I need this! Starting on my list.

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