The Not-To-Do List

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“You can do anything, but not everything.” ― David Allen

Food For Thought

The Not-To-Do List

If you look on the desk of any ambitious person, you’ll probably find a fair amount of predictable stuff: coffee cups (with varying levels of cold, abandoned coffee), post-its, uncapped pens, and – most predictably – “To-Do” Lists.

Whether they’re written neatly in a planner, scribbled on a scratch piece of paper, penned on a whiteboard, or kept in the back corner of your mind – we all have them. For the go-getter, they’re imperative. We can’t start the day without knowing what’s on that list.

But Bryce Maddock has a different idea, and we think it’s worth a listen. He’s CEO of TaskUs – the world’s leading digital customer experience outsourcing company – and he wants you to try and make a “Not To-Do List.”

“Decide what you’re not going to do. That doesn’t mean low priority items get crossed off the list. It means deciding that they’re not the absolute highest priority item. The discipline of saying – ‘here are probably seven or eight things that we’d like to accomplish this year… what are the four or five that we’re going to just decide we’re not going to do so that we can absolutely focus on the top three?’”

By saying ‘yes’ to something, you’re inherently saying ‘no’ to something else – but we usually don’t think of it that way.

But try it – make a list of everything you think you need to do. Then, give yourself permission to not do some of them. Cross those puppies off. Go ahead – use a red pen. It will feel awesome to free yourself to pursue what you really want to chase down.

Want more from Bryce? Listen to his interview on Mission Daily.

Deep Dive

Why You Should Say No To People More Often

Need a good excuse to say no? We have science to help you with that:

“A study in the Journal of Consumer Research by Professor Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt found that saying ‘I don’t’ as opposed to ‘I can’t’ allowed participants to extract themselves from unwanted commitments.”

Read the article.

Further Reading

Drawing Boundaries

Want to take saying ‘no’ a step further? Try Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by John Townsend. It’ll reshape how you view your ‘no,’ and help you make room for ‘yes.’


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(This was originally published on May 23, 2019 as the Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.)

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