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To-Do Lists and To-Don’t Lists – Join Our #MTtalk…

We are all familiar with the “To-Do” list. To-Do Lists are important tools that help us to prioritize what we want to accomplish in a day. In fact, many of us likely start our workdays listing what we need to do using one. Before we know it, we’ve planned out our whole day, perhaps our whole week or even month. We’ve filled our lives with what can often feel like a never-ending list of tasks.

So what if we also created a “To-Don’t” List at the same time?

Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: September 25, 2020 @ 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. GMT/ 10.30 p.m. IST)

Topic: To-Do Lists and To-Don’t Lists

Host: @Mind_Tools

The Busyness Trap

Before the pandemic, many of us were caught up in the “busyness trap.”

We all know what that trap looks like. Days filled with tasks to complete, juggling multiple priorities, and a rush to the finish line… not to mention the commute. We even have a name for it: hurry sickness.

The pandemic, with its restrictions to isolate at home, has brought busyness to a halt – or, for those who continue to work, a break in the pace.

Instead of beginning each day at the starting gate and racing to the finish line, we ease into the day and complete our tasks with a comfortable stride.

Are We Sick of Hurry Sickness?

What will happen when the pandemic ends? Will we all return to working at a breakneck clip?

Some say that the pandemic has taught us that we cannot and will not return to the work life we had before. I hope that this prediction is true. No one knows with certainty what the new work life normal will be. In any event, there is something that we can do to prevent the busy cycle from getting a grip on our lives again.

To-Do or To-Don’t: That Is the Question!

In my mind, we need to embrace the idea that doing less can actually accomplish more.

We all use To-Do Lists, most of us on a regular basis. But sometimes these can become overwhelming and even stressful. They can lead to hurry sickness and even burnout. So, what if we also created a To-Don’t List at the same time?

The idea is to list your goal for the day. Anything that accomplishes your goal becomes part of your To-Do List. Remember to add wellness breaks to this list, too! These physical and mental breaks are as important as the work you need to accomplish.

Once you’ve done this, build your To-Don’t List. This should include any activity that does not contribute to your main goal.

As you go through your day, keep both lists visible – a visual and mental reminder of what you will and will not do. By keeping your focus on these two lists, all the unnecessary activity (clutter) falls away. You achieve more by doing less.

Essentially, by identifying what we will and won’t do on any given day, we are able to achieve more with less effort. We can also bring more calm to our day. Think about the work that you have on your plate today. What will you make part of your To-Do List – and your To-Don’t List?

To-Do Lists and To-Don’t Lists: Join the Conversation!

During the #MTtalk Twitter chat this week, we’re going to explore the usefulness of To-Do Lists and To-Don’t Lists. As part of our conversation on this topic, we started a poll on Twitter to see how people felt about their To-Do Lists. A third (33.3 percent) said that their first reaction to their To-Do List was “Where do I start?” Thirty percent were concerned about forgetting things. But just over a fifth (23.3 percent) couldn’t wait to get started – “Bring it on!” they said.

You can explore the full set of poll results here.

We’d love for you to participate in the chat. So here are a few of the questions we’ll be considering, to spark some thoughts and ideas:

  • Which do you prefer – electronic To-Do Lists or pen-and-paper? Why?
  • Are there items that you routinely add to your To-Do List? What are they?
  • Why would you need a list of things not to do when you can simply not do them?
  • Who knows about your To-Do and To-Don’t Lists, and does this matter?


To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.

Note: some of the resources below may only be available in full to members of the Mind Tools Club and corporate licensees.

To-Do Lists

How Productive Are You?


How to Be More Organized


Minimizing Distractions

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday!

We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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