How many times have you aimed to be a productive do-it-all in the morning, only to end up as a barely-done-anything drained person at the end of the day? Sure, we all have our bad and unproductive days every now and then, but if this is happening to you way too often, then it’s time to make a stop-doing list instead of your normal to-do list, to raise productivity levels.
The thing is, we all know and realize that we have to be productive—be it as an employee, as a parent, or even as a student. We need to finish our work and chores, and we all start with good intentions but tend to stray from our goals and get distracted along the way. To ensure that you remain productive on most, if not all, days, here’s what you may need to do.
Make A Stop-Doing List
Sounds crazy, right? We all make lists of what we need to do on an everyday basis—the projects that need to be filed, the presentation for the client meeting, the urgent request from your budding teen or the grocery list, etc... And yet, when you come down to measure what you actually were able to achieve in that day, as opposed to what you were supposed to—the reality is stark, depressing, and falls way short of actual productivity levels. So along with making a bullet list of all that needs to be done, it’s time to make a stop-doing list of all that doesn’t need to be done—and by that we mean chaffing out the distractions and the little idiosyncrasies we all have that get in the way of us accomplishing things.
What Goes On A Stop-Doing List?
Sit for a moment and arrange your thoughts—now list out the things that you do that distract you from the actual work at hand. Is it a tendency to daydream, too much time spent online, endless cups of caffeine followed by nth trips to the bathroom? How about the daily bout between you and your snarly pet? Or that pest of a friend who always calls at the wrong time with a tendency to ramble? You get the picture, right? Make a list of things that you truly and literally need to stop doing, because they interfere with your work, distract you from your daily goals, and then leave you feeling like a lesser version of yourself at the end of the day. To make you feel better (and give you some ideas), here’s my own list...
Rima’s Stop-Doing List
- Stop dithering with chores and actually get on with them.
- Don’t bother procrastinating about exercise. You. Have. To. Work. Out.
- Do not pick up the phone when you are writing. Put it on silent and pick up only the calls you have to. You can chat and WhatsApp later when all is done.
- Do not wring your hands over the work you didn’t do yesterday—put in those extra minutes (or hours) and get it done today.
- Do not lay down for that nap no matter how sleepy you are feeling for taking a nap will ruin your night’s sleep and then make you lie awake, staring at the ceiling, despairing about what your life has become.
- Do not yell at the kids—they will spill water, stain their clothes, and do their chores at caterpillar-speed. They. Are. KIDS. This is what they do.
- Do not spend hours researching an article and get diverted by other interesting things that you want to read. Reading time is later, once the work is all done.
- Do not stare at the window and take breaks sitting down. When you need a break from that laptop and somewhat uncomfortable chair, get up and do something—complete a chore, clean something, walk 500 steps.
- Do not drink endless cups of coffee. Coffee does not equal productivity. More than three cups means you will lie awake at night, fidgeting away to glory.
- Do not daydream about being the next Rowling. Work towards it instead.
So, did that help? It should. And remember that you have to be brutally honest about yourself, to yourself.
Should It Only Be About Work?
No, not at all. What affects your productivity at work or even at home could be something completely unrelated. Noisy roommates, irritating in-laws, sniveling colleagues—there are plenty of things beyond your control that can affect your day’s work. You cannot change the world but you can stop doing things that further entangle you in their problems. Go out and finish your work in a café if the roommates are a pain, or shut out your in-laws by simply locking yourself up in your room till your work is done. Sometimes, it is good to tune out the world and focus on the tasks at hand.
Where Should You Put The List?
Anywhere visible and attention-catching is fine (though it does not have to be privy to public view). If you are a journal writer, then you can make a split list of things to do and a stop-doing list side by side for each day. Or how about a mobile alarm or desktop alarm that reminds you to get back to work. Else, make the list on a post-it and stick it somewhere right in front of your eyes…
Frankly, it’s pretty simple. If you take away all that distracts you and tunes you out from the work that you are supposed to be doing, you make time to do more and more work. A simple and effective way to increase productivity, wouldn’t you agree? And equally effective in you being more confident and a happier person on the whole.