The Not-to-do list?

The Not-To-Do List, By Kristi Holl

As one of my time-saving endeavors in 2010, I made what my best friend calls a Not-to-Do list. I couldn’t squeeze more writing into my day unless I eliminated some things. Once I identified many of the problems, fixing them wasn’t that hard!

And a Not-to-Do list really works too. The first week in January I was able to add 16 hours of writing time to my schedule, and the second week I added 15 hours. I was thrilled with the changes—and believe it or not, I’m finished earlier in the day and able to take all of Sunday off.

I’ll share my list, and then I hope you’ll leave a comment and share something you’ve given up to make more time for writing. Altogether, we could generate a really helpful list! 

The List

Since what you don’t do often determines what you can do, let the weeding out process begin!

  1. I use my answering machine and don’t take calls from numbers I don’t recognize. I let it go to Voicemail on my answering machine, which is turned up so I can hear the message. If it’s important, I can interrupt the message and take it. Nine times out of ten—or more—it can wait.
  2. I don’t get on the Internet at all until 2 p.m. This has been the single most beneficial change I’ve made this year. I let my kids and friends know my new schedule and said to call me if they needed an answer about something before that time. If I answer email before that, I’m stuck online for several hours, flitting from site to site.
  3.  I don’t email after supper anymore. Again, it’s because it expands until that “ten-minute check” has eaten up an hour or two. It robs me of sleep I need, plus relaxed reading time that helps me unwind.
  4. I no longer agree to appointments and meetings in the mornings. That ruins my writing for the whole day, for some reason. So far, I’ve never had trouble getting the time changed to the afternoon, and as late as possible.
  5. I now just check email twice a day, at 2 p.m. and just before I quit work about 6 p.m. Since I’m starving by 6, there’s no temptation to linger and read all the email ads I get for losing weight.
  6. If I don’t know, I say so. I can’t tell you how much time this has saved me already this year! I probably have an ego problem, but when someone emails and wants to know how to do XX, and I have no experience with it, my past behavior has always been to Google for the answer, send a lengthy reply, and give the person lots of URLs to check out. Now, if I don’t know, I say so. I apologize for not being able to help, but that’s it. I now let people Google things for themselves.
  7. I have a simple cell phone. I just got a new cell phone because my old one broke. Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I didn’t buy one with any bells and whistles. I don’t want to be able to get online or check email by phone. I want it mostly for emergencies—mine. I no longer carry it around everywhere either. I leave it in my purse for emergencies on the road.
  8. I’m declining parties and showers for people I barely know.

It’s good to focus on getting things done, but sometimes you can’t get more organized until you weed out the time-eaters in your life. So now, let me ask: what things are going on your not-to-do list this year? Please share!


The Not-To-Do List?

   I came upon Kristi Holl’s entry for yesterday to be absolutely insightful
   and amazing.  I found it so useful that I thought I would include it for you
   As writers, we are always making goals and to do lists.  But what about
   not to do lists?  That is a real wonderful insight. I have printed off Kristi’s
   entry for yesterday and pasted it above my desk.  It has already helped
   me today.
   I hope you will do the same.
   For more of Kristi’s writing blogs, visit her website at:



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