Many people have “To Do” lists. I used to – since I was 6! In fact, had there been an Olympic-level event for fanciest and most complex “to do lists” I would have been a contender. I lived by my list!

I stopped having one a few years ago – and it has quintupled my productivity. I instead schedule time for the most important priorities, including time off.

But I would strongly advocate having a “Stop Doing” list.

As you ponder the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be in the future, think about the behaviours, people, and situations that slow down your momentum.

Write these items down on a Stop Doing list. These are the things that, once you stop doing, will allow you to focus on your priorities and achieve your key goals much more quickly.

Here are some sample items:

  1. Stop channel surfing and only watch TV when there is a specific show to watch. And if you can record that and zap through the ads, you’ll cut down an average one hour show by 20 minutes.
  2. Stop using the Internet when using the computer for work-related tasks so that you remain focused on what really needs to get done that will move you forward in your life.
  3. Stop working on weekends – your mind needs the downtime to relax and recharge.
  4. Stop eating junk food on weekdays – you need healthy nutrition to be productive.
  5. Stop checking your email so frequently (hint: if it’s that urgent, they will call!).
  6. Stop aiming for perfection in everything you do. The last 5% of a task may be taking up 25% or more of your time!

Take inventory of all the “DO’s” in your life and see if they align with who you are and where you want to go. Make a list of “DON’Ts” and bathe in the clarity that follows. Repeat frequently.

I recently created my own Stop Doing (or Delay) list. One item was to pull out of an intended 200K charity bike ride this year. Why?

Because the amount of training required in the next few months would have been about three hours per day as I have not ridden for more than a few minutes in 35 years! It would come at the expense of other key priorities over the next few months. Instead, I have opted to take on this huge challenge for me, while raising funds to help end cancer – in 2015 – allowing me much longer to train slowly and to also undertake shorter bike rides this summer.

So, what can you put on your Stop Doing list?