Quick Tips

Serenity Tip: Make a To-Don’t List

Here’s another Friday tip you can implement as we head into the weekend. With the current serenity topic asking for special awareness of our to-do lists, have you made a To-Don’t List?

Serenity Tip: Make a To-Don't List

By this, I mean: have you thought consciously about the things you may be asked to do, or tempted to do, which simply don’t fit into your life, don’t bring you joy, or are not a priority at present? Having a defined list of these can make it significantly easier to say No, either to yourself, or others. Often, these things show up as “should” (I should make dinner from scratch… I should join my mother-in-law’s book group…) and in my experience they may be repeaters, not completers (vacuum the bedroom… answer yet more emails).

Take a look at your to-do list, or think back to activities which took your time recently, and see what belongs on your To-Don’t List. For example, mine has:

  • Don’t attend any parties, except those of close friends (I simply don’t enjoy them)
  • Don’t iron sheets (I do iron the pillowcases though)
  • Don’t buy groceries more than once a week (I barely stick to this)
  • Don’t leave the house for a solitary errand
  • Don’t watch cable TV (we only have Netflix)

But I know there are further things I could probably ditch. How about you? Are there things you used to do, or would like not to do, or hate to do but can’t imagine giving up?

A spoonful of serenityA Spoonful of Serenity

And while you ponder your To-Don’t list, these resources caught my eye this week:

  • A quirky (short!) video on Self-Compassion and its importance for those of us who tend to push ourselves too hard. Particularly good when dealing with setbacks.
  • Similar to the idea of merging your to-do list with your calendar, this article invites you to time-block your week.
  • Wonderful tips from Wellfesto on managing work + life.

On Monday, I’ll be giving an update on my efforts to lessen To-Do List Tyranny. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with this second serenity topic, too.


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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Martina Munzittu
    January 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Loved this post, Pauline. It made me smile because I don’t have a ‘to do list’, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had one, even when I had a very demanding job. The only list I use is the grocery shopping list 🙂

    That is not because I don’t have stuff to do, but more about the idea that to jot down what needs to be done would be another task on the list!

    I generally (and sometimes mistakenly) trust my mind to work out what needs to be done next, and re-prioritize things as necessary. I do forget things occasionally, but I tell myself that if I forgot to do something, it must not have been that important to start with.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to not having a to-do list, in my experience:

    Disadvantages: I do forget things and occasionally I feel overwhelmed by the stuff that needs to be done. Also, you don’t get that feeling of accomplishment you normally would, because you don’t cross items off the list.

    Advantages: it trains my mind not to rely on written prompts, but to actually work out every time what needs to be done when, and it allows me the flexibility to readjust to the impromptus (family emergencies, poor health, power cuts, sunny weather, etc) without feeling guilty for those items not being crossed off.

    In reality, I think it’s the “southern Italian” mentality at play there. Do what needs to be done next and don’t worry too much about the future 😉

    So, the list of ‘to don’t’ that you mention = which I call the “don’t dos” resonates with me. One of the things I learnt in recent years is to automatically say ‘no’ when someones asks you to do something, if you’re not sure. It’s easier to change the ‘no’ in ‘yes’ (should you reconsider)’ than the ‘yes’ in ‘no’.

  2. Reply
    January 23, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Martina, I’m fascinated to hear you don’t have a list. My husband often encourages me to simply tear mine up, and I do believe that if something is truly important, I will remember it. Maybe later in the year I should try going list-free for a week and see what happens!
    And that principle of saying No automatically is great. You’re absolutely right, it’s usually far easier to change to a Yes later.

  3. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    January 23, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Pauline, what a great idea to make a “To-Don’t List.” I’m going to put some real thought into that one! And I’d like to adopt Martina’s “Do what needs to be done next and don’t worry too much about the future.”

  4. Reply
    January 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Yes, Jean, it’s a great way of turning things on their head. I’m pretty sure there should be far more Don’ts on my list than I identified.

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