Create a STOP DOING List

From time to time, we all get overwhelmed with activities, and most of us turn to a “To Do” list to manage the priorities. There are several systems that help keep people organized and assist them in making the most of their time. In this article, I suggest that having a specific “Stop Doing” list can be just as helpful at managing time as having a “To Do” list.

Time is the most precious commodity we have. What makes something precious is comprised of two factors. The thing must be of intrinsic value to us and it must be scarce.

Diamonds and coal are chemically identical and both have intrinsic value to us, but diamonds are very hard to find, so their value is infinitely higher.

Time has value to us because it is all we have to live with, and nobody can get more than 24/7 each day. Therefore, time has extremely high value; it is both important and scarce.

The world serves up a huge smorgasbord of activities every day. I am sure that each person reading this article has a huge number of things to do today. Carving out a couple minutes to absorb this information means that something else is not going to get done.

We normally make decisions on our use of time thousands of times a day. Most of these decisions are unconscious. It becomes more critical to make the right decisions in times of peak load.

I am pretty sure you have not had a day this year in which you could just kick back and do whatever you wanted for the entire day. So we manage the time by prioritizing the things we must do or want to do.

Rarely do we take an objective look at the time-burning habits that are not really logical. Sometimes we do these by rote and don’t think about it. An example of this might be putting on makeup. For me, I have a habit of checking my blood pressure ten times in a row each morning and average the numbers to arrive at a data point for today. One time would probably be sufficient.

If we had a system of bringing our time-consuming habits up for conscious decision often, we might be able to purge several things off our list. It is a gut reaction to sort the things we want to do in terms of priority, but it takes specific effort to focus on time wasters and cull out the ones we can live without.

In the past month I joined our local Rotary Organization. It has been on my agenda to get involved in Rotary for a long time because I believe in their work, and it is in my DNA from my father and great uncle.

The problem is that Rotary takes a lot of time if you are going to be fully involved, so before joining, I stepped off a Board of Directors that I had been active on for the past decade. I have a firm rule not to serve on more than three boards at any time. So now I am on two boards and have added Rotary. Time will tell if I can handle that load with my regular business demands, teaching, and personal life.

Try this experiment. Sit down in a quiet place and try to identify at least 10 things you could stop doing this week. If you find the exercise helpful, you might want to make a date with yourself a couple times a year to hone your “Stop Doing” list. You will have a wonderful feeling of really managing the most important commodity in your life: your time.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763

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