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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