Make a Not to Do List

Most of us are familiar with making a to-do list and the accompanying gratification that comes with crossing off each item. Although unfortunately, most of us never seem to finish that do-to list. The never-ending cycle of tasks can take a toll on our already over scheduled life, leaving little time for the things we might really want to do. Perhaps it’s time to make a new list, in which we consider what’s most important to us and make a Not to Do List. Nurses Announcements Archive


Many of us spend the day counting the hours until our shift is done, or until we have a day off to focus on our personal To-Do List. But once this long-awaited time arrives, often it’s never enough. We may spend most of our spare time crossing off the things that we need to do, leaving little time for what we want to do.

Often there’s no better feeling than accomplishing everything on your To Do List, although sometimes that list seems never-ending. What if that list was shorter, making it easier to reach those goals? What if we narrowed down our To Do List by focusing on what not to do? Then perhaps instead of being controlled by what we feel we have to do, we can spend more of our free time doing what we want to do.

Reevaluate Your To Do List

There’s no doubt that there are many tedious tasks that we have to do each day, but often many that populate our list, or our minds, are things that may not merit the guilt accompanying them. What might have been good a few years ago, might not meet your needs today. We may spend so much time doing what we feel we have to do that we no longer know what we want to do. The life you live today isn’t the same as the one you lived a few years ago, or even last year. Our needs and wants evolve with the passing of time, but often we don’t reevaluate if there are things we can remove from our homes, or our thoughts.

Minimizing, decluttering, and organizing our material possessions has gotten a lot of focus lately. Some even say that decreasing the things in our physical space can help us find more happiness and peace in our thoughts.

Make a Not To Do List

There are tasks that take up our time, energy, and finances, that may begin to feel more tedious and not worthy of our time and energy. Focus on one or two tasks, or items at a time and consider, how much do I care about this? Prioritize your time for what’s important to do today, what can wait until later, and eliminate those things that may not be worth your time.

I’m Not Going to ...

  • Keep that subscription to that magazine or blog I no longer read, or pay the membership fee for an organization I no longer have the time, or the desire, to participate in. Purge your home and the guilt of things that are no longer important to your life today.
  • Move those clothes around that I keep thinking will come back in style, or that I’ll lose 10 pounds so they’ll fit better. Reduce the time spent sorting through your closet and make it easier to find the items you love to wear.
  • Stare at the overflowing inbox and instead start deleting or unsubscribing the unnecessary, or endless, emails vying for your attention. If you don’t want to unsubscribe, many offer the option of reducing the frequency.
  • Check my email every five minutes. Plan certain times during the day for email and social media so it doesn’t overtake your day. Set your phone down so you can be fully present.
  • Be distracted or annoyed by spam phone calls, or feel the need to respond immediately to texts and social media. Instead block spam numbers, let them leave a message, or change the settings for times you don’t want disturbed.
  • Say yes to get-togethers, meetings, and clubs that I really don’t have the time, or desire to participate in. Decline early, and politely, so guilt doesn’t weigh on you or result in you backing out at the last minute.
  • Neglect to ask for help. Someone in your family, or professional life, might be willing to assist with, or do some tasks more efficiently.

The Gift of Time

Most nurses realize the value of each minute. Whether we’ve learned that from the demands on our time, or our patients who say they wish they’d spent their time in a different way. Make the space and time for what’s most important in life. Don’t let the tedious tasks on your To Do List take up all your time and prevent you from getting to the things you really want to do because there’s too much you have to do. What we don’t do might just provide more time for what we want to do.

Specializes in RN, BSN, MA, CLNC, HC/LC.

Great advice. So obvious that we all overlooked it. My new years plan was to keep a progressive TO DO list which is a hard cover notebook. I made a list of guidelines for the list. I use one half or whole page per project (if complex task). I keep track of date placed on list, vendors, prices/estimates progress and receipts.

It also has a TA DONE. Check off box. I add a gold star to encourage myself. They add up rather quickly once you get out of inertia and into momentum mode.

Latest accomplishment was to study for Chemo certification. The text Book was 667 pages of fine print and many online videos. I Planned my time and learning goals. Big part of success was No Procrastinating. Having a plan was a big part of staying on track.

Upon your great advice I'm going to add another Guideline on my list.

I'm now Keeping separate list of Ideas I've considered and decided NOT TO DO. I will write in pro's and con's and build confidence in decision making skills and reward myself for Not Overburdening myself. I just completed a periodic review of what is on the To Do list and doing a root cause analysis of why there is little or no progress will help to clear the list of things that probably didn't belong on the list in the first place.

Thanks do much for your advice.

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X