Is it time to create your not-to-do list?

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We are living in a fast-paced world where we are striving to do more, taking on extra responsibilities and shifting our priorities. When is it time to step back and reflect on when we are doing too much?

Our Operating Partner, Jacqueline Shakespeare wrote an exclusive column for City AM on taking those all-important steps to start doing less. Check it out below.

Now is the time to create your own not-to-do list

Over the years, we gradually take on more and more responsibilities, yet we rarely take time to reflect and consider when we are doing too much. If we reflect back on our teenage years, most of us only had to worry about ourselves – anyone reading this who has a teenager, will probably be reminded of this every day. Then, as we become independent adults, we get a job, move into our own homes, maybe meet someone and have children.

Steadily and inevitably, life keeps pulling on us, sometimes through our own choice, other times not. We have the essential day-to-day responsibilities of developing our career, maintaining our homes, and looking after our growing children. But, we also find ourselves spending more time looking after ageing relatives, investing in raising our professional profile, training for a marathon, renovating the house or taking up an evening class. All the time, adding to the complexity of our lives.

It’s not surprising we end up feeling overwhelmed, wondering when we will find time to relax.

We need to regularly reflect on whether we are doing too much. And when we can see that we are, we need to learn to share our responsibilities and put stuff down. It’s as simple, and as hard as that.

Sounds easier said than done? There are some simple steps you can follow to start doing less.

Learn to recognise and then stop the activities that no longer need the attention they once did, or that you don’t want to give the time to anymore. Not all activities that were once important in your life still are today, but it’s easy to carry on doing them, just because you always have.

Automate as much as you can. By removing the thinking behind your day-to-day tasks, you’re freeing up time to focus on other areas of your life. Set up direct debits against all regular bills and create calendar events for regular activities such as submitting invoices or birthdays.

Delegate and share. Whether it’s your partner, children or outside help, could certain activities sit better with them rather than you? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself – sometimes ‘done’ is more important than perfect.

Create a not-to-do list. Most of us have a to-do-list, but how many of us consciously focus on the bad habits that have crept into our routines and lives? What you don’t do determines what you can do, so it’s an effective way of creating more time. My own not-to-do list includes not checking work emails before I officially start my working day, or allowing notifications from apps on my phone that will inevitably distract me.

When you do less, you will find that you have a clearer head, one that isn’t constantly racing with everything you’re trying to do. You will work more efficiently and have the headspace and time for the things that you love in life, the ones that ground you and energise you.


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Written by
Sullivan & Stanley