The Power of a Not-To-Do List

Focusing on the negative helps us reflect on and cut out activities that don’t align with our broader goals.

Have something you'd like to tell 11,000+ One Productivity readers about? Reserve an ad here.

Has your working day become one long battle to wade through a to-do list?

The multiple distractions of the modern workplace can make it near impossible to achieve your goals, or even get anything done at all.

But, what if you’re going about things the wrong way? Perhaps you should be thinking more about what you shouldn’t be doing instead. This is called "Inversion": a strategy that looks at problems in reverse, to minimize the negatives instead of maximizing the positives

For productivity, a hack you can use is creating a list of “anti-goals”.

Come up with your worst possible workday: one filled with long meetings, a packed schedule dealing with people you don‘t like or trust. Then come up with your "anti-goals".

Tim Ferriss’ not-to-do list includes: don’t let people ramble, don’t agree to meetings with no clear agenda, and work shouldn’t fill a void that should be filled elsewhere.

For you, it could mean no morning meetings, no more than two hours of scheduled time per day and not having to deal with people you don’t like.