My Not To Do List

"It is not daily increase but daily decrease, hack away the unessential."

I love to-do list. They are powerful and help me get things done.

But a few years back, I discovered the power of the not-to-do list. They made such a big impact in my life that I want to share on this blog.

The power of not-do-list is simple: what you don’t do determine what you can do.

So, here are few of my not-to-do List

1. No to News

“The fortunate among us have recognized the hazards of living with an overabundance of food and have started to shift our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body.” -Rolf Dobelli

When was the last time when you opened the newspaper and read positive news? Or, even something which helped you make a better decision?

Few of the reasons I do not read news (largely influenced by Robb Dobelli and Nassim Taleb)

1. News Mislead us:
Our brains are wired to pay attention to visible, large, scandalous, sensational, shocking, people-related, story-formatted, fast-changing, loud, graphic onslaughts of stimuli. News media outlets, by and large, focus on the highly visible. News grabs our attention; that’s how its business model works.

As a result of the news, we walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads.

  • Terrorism is overrated. Chronic stress is underrated.
  • Vijay Mallya scam is overrated. Fiscal subsidies are underrated.
  • Airplane crashes are overrated. Resistance to antibiotics is underrated.

2. News makes us dumb:
News has no explanatory power. Will accumulating facts help you understand the world? Sadly, no. The more “news summary” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. If information was all we needed, journalists all be billionaires with six-pack abs. That’s not the case.

3. News makes us pessimist:
News stories are overwhelmingly about things you cannot influence. That, combined with negative news, provides us a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, and a sense of helplessness.

I don’t read the news. I read books and long articles which are organized for me via feedly

2. No to Non-Productive Meetings

In the corporate world, Meetings and calls can be very time-consuming. Even more when there is no clear agenda.

For every meeting invite, I ask myself:

  • Is the agenda clear?
  • Do I need to attend in person, or I can read summary offline?
  • Does the meeting time justifies the agenda?

Pausing and reflecting on this has made me escape many time sunk meetings. I am not always successful, but have gone better in this.

3. No to Phone Notification

Having smartphone notification enabled is giving permission to various apps to disturb you as per THEIR convenience. I try to be mindful of this - only Call and Text Message notification are enabled on my phone. Multitasking is a myth, and cost of context switch due to interruptions is very high.

4. No to Junk Food

I’m an active person, with a passion for health and fitness. Fitness without right nutrition is analogous of putting bad petrol in your Mercedes.
My rule is simple - Eat Natural, Do not eat what is made in a factory.

There are many other in my no-to-do list, but these are top 4, which made the most impact.
And I strongly believe in Pareto Principle - I do not try to be perfect, but as long as I comply to these above rules 80% of the time, I’m on the right path.

This is my not-to-do list. What is yours?
Let me know in the comments.


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