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Achieving your goals with a not-to-do list

Not-to-do list
Everyone knows about to-do lists; lists where you write down tasks and things to do, then sort them out and finally tick them off once they’re done. But have you ever heard of not-to-do lists? In this article you will learn what a not-to-do list is, how you can create one and what advantages it has.

What is a not-to-do list?

A to-do list names things that need to be done, and a not-to-do list is exactly the opposite! It lists all the things that you should stop doing and things that you should never do, no matter what. So, it’s an overview of all the things that could distract you, things that take up too much of your energy and things that lead to bad habits.

First of all, a not-to-do list is a useful tool to help you focus on the essentials in your life, especially at school, and not to be distracted from your plans. It also helps you to get rid of bad habits. It is therefore a kind of visual reminder that helps you to stay on track with your goals. In short, the not-to-do list lists things you need to avoid in order to succeed.

How to create a not-to-do list?

Before you create a list of don'ts, analyse your learning habits and the way you usually spend your time. Find out which things you can't learn without and which ones you can easily eliminate.

Secondly, you need to know your goals and priorities. What do you want to achieve by the end of the day? What are the high priority issues and what can leave for another day? Try to distinguish between what’s important and what’s not, using the following questions:
  • Will this task help me achieve my goals?
  • Are there any negative consequences if I do not complete this task?
  • Is this task urgent or can it wait?

Once you’ve answered these questions, the next step is to find the best way to achieve your goals. Try to identify and avoid disruptions. Everything that distracts you from your goals should be on your not-to-do list.

This is what a not-to-do list might look like for your study session:
  • Leaving social networks open
  • Giving up
  • Memorising content and not applying the theory
  • Complaining and moaning- this is demotivating and gets you nowhere
  • Leaving your mobile phone on
  • Not taking breaks
  • Tidying your room - this should be done before learning
  • Sorting out pencils
  • Letting yourself be interrupted constantly
  • Putting off tasks
  • Ignoring your study plan

Can you think of any other issues that stop you having a productive study session?

What are the advantages of a not-to-do list?

Not-to-do lists are great for people who are easily distracted, quickly lose track and have difficulty managing their time. A glance at the not-to-do list helps you to focus and draw attention to the essentials.

Other advantages of a not-to-do list are:
  • Eliminates time wasting activities
  • Saves energy for important tasks
  • Increases productivity
  • Separates what’s important from what’s not
  • Helps you prioritise
  • Helps you to avoid bad habits: e.g., addiction to social networks
  • Increases motivation

  • Conclusion

    The not-to-do list, as opposed to the to-do list, lists all the items that can be avoided or postponed and that have no urgent priority. It works as a kind of guide for your learning and should keep you away from things that are not important. It helps you to work in a focused way to achieve your goals and not to let insignificant things stop you.
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