Avoid the To-Do Trap with a Stop Doing Solution
I was driving to my office this week for the first of our annual planning meetings. Normally I look forward to these. No phone calls, no email, just blue-sky thinking and creative brain storming about what to add for next year. But, instead of being excited, I was dreading it.
It’s been a busy year (feel the same way?) and the idea of creating one more list turned my stomach.
Then I remembered the Stop Doing List idea popularized by Good to Great author Jim Collins. “The stop doing list” he wrote “is an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions.”
The idea is simple: before you create one more To-Do list full of great ideas, most of which you will never have time for (which I call the To-Do trap), make a list of what you need to stop doing in order to get more of what you want.
This year we experimented with new revenue streams that, in the end, produced pretty small returns. I’m not against earning a few more thousands of dollars. But there is a cost to everything.
For example, to promote and launch an affiliate webinar (we’re paid for products sold), or a coaching offer, we have to strategize, write, schedule and post emails. It also means we can’t be promoting other products during this time.
Let me walk you through what we did at that planning meeting—it’s a simple exercise that you can do in about 20 minutes.[Tweet “Use the #StopDoing solution and avoid the #ToDo List trap! Learn more here”]
What’s on your Stop Doing List?
Here’re the exact steps I went through, that you can can do as well.
- Make a list of all the work activities that occupy your time. Don’t get too micro here —list major activities like: delivering product, speaking, hosting seminars, consulting, coaching, writing, social media updates, writing your blog, etc.
- Next, put a dollar amount beside any items that directly earned you income.
- Now (and this is exactly what I did a few days ago in our planning session) beside your original list, create a list of what work you IDEALLY want to spend time on. For me this was a short list of about five items.
- Lastly, go back to your original list and put a check-mark beside items you need to keep and a big red “X” beside ones going on your Stop Doing list.
You can create a Stop Doing list for any area of your life, but with work I think you need to also be asking what core work you want to do. I love to write and teach—everything else is work. Read my solutions for outsourcing what’s on your Stop Doing list in this article.
The better I get at Stop Doing what doesn’t fit with my core work, the more effective and more profitable I’ll be. Full stop. Got 20 minutes? Follow my four steps to build your Stop Doing list and free up time for what you really should be doing.