Not-to-do Lists and Anti-goals

Posted by jlubans on November 14, 2017

Since I have made a career out of being contrarian, I was drawn to a BBC story on “Owning Your Time” in which several experts turn productivity advice topsy-turvy.
The productivity industry – which is not an insignificant profit center of the self-help industry – has long favored making to-do lists and setting goals. The to-do list organizes one’s day and firm and fixed goals provide direction and stability.
Well, now, some productivity experts are saying to turn these concepts inside out, into not-to-do lists and anti-goals.
Here’s how it works:
Imagine your most miserable day. What does it look like? Endlessly rambling meetings? Meetings with people you do not like or trust? A packed day with never a spare moment to think about your goals and dreams?
Then, consider what you can change about this worst day ever.
Obviously if you don’t like or trust your boss, there’s not much you can do about eliminating the dreaded weekly meeting.
But, what about all those monthly meetings with your subordinates?
Put your calendar on a diet.
Can’t those self-perpetuating meetings be streamlined into something less formal and more satisfying?
Maybe even eliminated?
What about the overall structure of your day?
Block out time for working alone.
Maybe, never meet in the morning.
Create buffers around that toxic boss meeting. Before and after that meeting, schedule an hour or two Out Of Office. In other words, take a walk in the park.
Of course, you are doing creative work all the while. Let your boss know that these OOO rambles are highly productive and enable you to consider ways to improve your work – which they do.
Obviously, not-doing or anti-goals do not preclude those highly difficult times for a good leader. Like having that heart to heart disciplinary meeting with a recalcitrant worker, but, when you have a choice, choose to get rid of what makes you miserable.
You may have other ways to cope. In any case, don’t be a slave to a schedule you actually control. When I was 9-5, I could have done more to change the daily, weekly, and monthly routine.
I wrote about those days – and what I would change - in a recent blog, “Best Practice Meetings”.


Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($19.99- NEW PRICE pending).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783

© Copyright 2017 John Lubans

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