When I saw this image about a stop doing list, it spoke to me on so many levels, because it’s true. Why stop at having a to-do list that you can check off when you’ve done the task, when you can do the same thing for the things you want to stop doing?
What Is A Stop Doing List?
With a traditional to-do list, you write a list of tasks or chores you want to complete. In that regards, the stop doing list is pretty similar, accept you list what tasks, activities, habits, or behaviors you want to stop doing (Healthy Happy Teacher).
Why You Need A Stop Doing List
As my partner often says when they’re complaining about their dad, it’s not that you don’t have time, it’s because it’s not considered a priority. Or it could be that we’re not prioritising things correctly? Also, many of us have a mentality where we wait for a significant date to try making changes that’ll be beneficial to us. The New Year’s resolution is a classic example of this. Something we really need to stop doing this. And, although I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore, I still self-sabotage by picking arbitrary dates to try to better myself.
There is only so much time in a day, making it harder and harder to fit in the stuff that’ll help manage your stress and improve your quality of life. Thus, a stop doing list can help you trim the fat so you have more time for the stuff that’s important to you. It’ll also help rid yourself of excuses.
When I was a people-pleaser, I would put everyone else’s needs before mine, especially my friends. This didn’t do my sense of self any good, let alone my wellbeing. But this is where something like a stop doing list can help. You can list the tasks you’ll no longer willing to do and the behaviours you engage in that maintain your people-pleasing tendencies. Basically, in this context, a stop doing list will help support your boundaries.
I used to be of the mindset that you finish what you started, right up until I decided to do A Level Law. I soon fell out of that mindset. There’s nothing wrong with quitting something. It can save you wasting time on something, allowing you to reallocate it to something else. Quitters never prosper just aren’t true. Often, quitting is what you need to prosper. Life is complicated. There’s no point wasting time and effort on something that’s not helping you in some way. It’s all about the context.
For example, quitting on your antidepressant after a week because you don’t feel any changes yet isn’t going to do you any good. These things take time before you can know if they work. They usually take between six and eight weeks. But if you’re doing a course like I was and you simply hate doing it, then why keep going?
What Could You Put On Your Don’t Do List?
There’s certainly one I’d recommend to my partner, and that’s saying sorry all the time. They’ll even say sorry for something that was out of their control. Apparently, women are socially conditioned to use hedging or apologetic language (Child Mind Institute), likely because not doing so could lead to violence from certain men in the world.
If my partner took this over-apologising and added it to their stop doing list, then they could add an entry like, “I won’t apologise for things that aren’t my fault”. But there are loads of things you can use a stop doing list for. Another example could be to stop having a beer or a glass of wine after work.
You can even use this as an opportunity to support your goals by creating a stop doing list to tackle the barriers to you succeeding in your goals. Furthermore, you could use your core values to help with your stop doing list, so that you can cut out the things that don’t support or benefit your core values (Forbes).
In fact, the best way to create a don’t do list would be to think about SMART goals and create long-term goals that you want to achieve. Then list what obstacles might get in the way. Whatever obstacles you’ve listed are things you do, then you can add those to your don’t do list.
Think of it like applying Marie Kondo’s “does this bring joy?” philosophy to what is and isn’t important to you and your wellbeing. What will help you achieve your goals, live up to your core values, and improve your quality of life?
One thing many people could benefit from adding to their list is comparisons. Pretty much anyone I’ve ever talked to that is struggling with life, depression, who they are, etc. can be linked back to them making comparisons. This person is great because of such-and-such and I’m a loser because I’m not them. These kinds of comparisons will only make you unhappy, so if you’re making them, then add making comparisons to your don’t do list.
If I was to create a don’t do list, I’d probably add the following:
- Don’t eat chocolate and crisps for breakfast, as it starts your day on the wrong foot and it’s making me unhealthy.
- Don’t compare myself to my friends. It doesn’t help me and it only makes me feel bad.
- Don’t dress for other people’s acceptance.
- Don’t let fear dictate what you do.
- Don’t let procrastination stop you from doing the things you want to do.
- Stop doomscrolling.
Creating a to-do list can help us keep track of our tasks, help us manage our time better, and help us with being organised. To-do lists might be important to our wellbeing, but our wellbeing can also benefit from a don’t do list. When you bring the two together, you have two sides of the same coin ready to support your wellbeing.
Think of it like yin and yang. One list is for the stuff you want to do and cross off your list, while the other list is stuff you want to stop doing and cross off your list. Both have their uses, but together they’re complete.
What will you put on your don’t do list?
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with using a don’t do list in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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31 thoughts on “Stop Doing List: How To Plan To Stop Doing Things”
You have given me a new perspective on quitting. Years ago I quit a high paying job because it did not fulfilled my artistic goals. But everyone made me feel bad about it. I knew that I am making correct decision for myself. And yet I felt like the worst person on earth. Quitting that job gave me an opportunity to be part of an experimental art project with unique artists.
In my ‘stop doing list’ I will include comparison and overthinking. Great post 👍
I’m glad I was able to help you see quitting in a new light. I also hope you’re much happier now
Like you, I’m a people pleaser, I think this needs to go to the top of my stop list. I also need to stop doom scrolling – see I have so many already that would massively change my life. Thank you!xxx
Good luck with your stop doing list
Really good points here. I think sometimes it is about stopping things we know are not helping us instead of adding others. I almost spit out my coffee reading this: “Don’t eat chocolate and crisps for breakfast, as it starts your day on the wrong foot and it’s making ME unhealthy.”
ha!! Love it. We all have things we know we could change or improve and this is a nice post about how to do that. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Indeed, change doesn’t have to mean adding things to our lives but rather removing the unhelpful ones instead
I’ve had a list of things I needed to stop doing but couldn’t finish them. Well, I’m going to do it again. I wasn’t thinking of its stop-doing list, but just normal things that I wanted to do. This is very informative and thank you for sharing!
Oh, I would definitely add “Don’t worry about things that might never happen!” It takes so much energy and doesn’t solve anything.
Definitely worth putting on the list
Interesting post. Though this sounds similar to a New Year’s resolution list except that the goals you listed are more achievable and realistic. Good luck with them
Accept New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail 9 times out of 10, as they’re normally vague. But with a stop doing list you can incorporate long-term planning with your goals
A to-do-list as you mentioned, can be a two edged sword. It can help us prioritize goals, but on the other side can negetively impact one’s mental health when we do not complete said list. I guess there has to be a balance.
I stop making new years resolution list years ago. I don’t really follow through with goals that sometimes makes me feel deflated when not accomplished. I just make a mental note of my goals and go with the flow.
Just like everything in life, you need to find the right balance. Thanks for commenting
Wow! I have never thought of it this way. Thanks
Thanks for commenting
Wow, this was such an eye-opening read. I make to do lists all the time but I love the idea of a stop doing list. I was, and occasionally still am, a people pleaser and it always makes me miserable to put others people needs and feelings ahead of my own. I am definitely going to sit down and work on my own stop doing list and put it somewhere I can see regularly to remind myself to not do those things.
I hope the stop doing list helps you overcome your remaining people-pleasing tendencies. Thanks for sharing
Oo, what a wonderful way to motivate ourselves to stop doing, especially if the people creating stop-doing lists are people like me, who feel driven and inspired by any kind of list. Love that you share your stop-doing list ideas and go into the phycology behind creating such a list. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your thoughts
This is the first time I have read on stop doing list. Useful insights to pick from your post. Thanks.
Thanks for commenting
The idea of a Not-to-do list or a Stop doing list, is an interesting concept. You’re post made me realize the difference between the two. Stop doing checks behavior you don’t like and actively working on it. That is a big step. And I can resonate with you partner on saying sorry. I used to do that a lot, but now that I’ve stopped doing that it changed a lot in my mindset. I can also relate to not eating certain foods in the morning, or the rest of the day.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
I’m glad you were able to connect with this topic. Thanks for sharing
Good stuff (as usual)! I LOVE the idea of being aware of behaviors you actively want to change. Then implementing a method to stop/change those behaviors is a step in the right direction. I am working to stop apologizing too. A terrible habit that made me look at WHY I felt the need to always apologize (looking inward is a helluva trip). Please wish your partner well in their journey. Thank you for sharing! ✌️
Over apologising is a surprisingly common problem, but once you stop saying sorry when it’s not necessary, you’ll notice a positive change in yourself. I wish you well in your journey and thanks for sharing
A stop-doing-list can have a big impact on your mindset and can help you reflect on behavior patterns you might want to change or stop. The example of saying sorry all the time, rings close to home. After stopping this I noticed my view on things changed. Great topic.
A stop doing list makes for a great addition to self improvement. Thank you for commenting
I enjoy reading your posts because they provide different perspectives. Once again, this topic was right in line. There was a time in my life where I had so much on my plate between work, grad school, my health and relationship. I had to choose one to drop and it was the best decision at the time. My stress levels reduced, and I was able to focus on my goals better. I like how you wrote some suggestions on the “Don’t Do” list. That helps to put things into perspective.
Thank you for sharing your experience
I regularlly use to-do lists, but I never thought about making a don’t do list. I liked reading your suggestions for what to add to a don’t do list, and I can definitely see how making a list can help you achieve your goals.
I hope you give the stop doing list a try