Developing a "Stop Doing" List

Most lead lives full of activity and lacking discipline. "To do" lists are overwhelming and ever growing. They are filled with wasteful activities, "we just have to do", that drain us of energy, steal our time and keep us from chasing truly great opportunities. 

Enter the idea of the "Stop Doing" list. 

A "stop doing" list in its most basic form is a list of the things that you and / or your team are going to stop doing.  

The solution to your crazy schedule and consequently a crazy task list isn't just another list but the process of evaluating exactly what you are doing each day. A "stop doing" list helps you take a cold hard look at what you are doing and literally stop doing those things that are not the most fruitful for you and your team.  

Like much of life, the power is in the process. 

How do you determine which activities are worth doing? Putting together a "stop doing" list begins by taking a hard look at your task list and asking yourself a series of questions.

1. What is the purpose of this task? It is always helpful to begin with the end in mind. To ask yourself the five year old's favorite question, why? Why is this item even on your "to do" list? What was it's origional purpose? Why are you doing each particular task? Purpose matters especially when it comes to the tasks that cosume your time. If the ultimate purpose of a task isn't worth the time, energy and resources it consumes ditch it. 

2. What outcomes does this task produce? Every task you perform produces an outcome. What is the result of doing each item on your list? What fuit does it produce? Make note of the outcomes your work produces. If what you are doing isn't producing good results that are helping you achieve your goals, it is probably something wasting your time.    

3. If I did not already do this, would I do it? Thinking about starting over often helps provide clarity. There are any number of things you do each day that were once great and needed items but whose time has passed. Honestly evaluate each and every item as if it were a new idea even if you've been doing it for years. Just because its the way things have always been done isn't a good enough reason to keep something on your to do list. You have too much going on for wasteful tasks born of tradition.  

4. Does it fall in my area of strength? Focus on what you do best. A stop doing list allows you to focus on your strengths. Stop doing things you're not best equipped to do. Chances are that even if the task is worth doing, someone else around you might be better suited to perform it.