To-do lists. We all have them. Whether it’s in your head, written down or stored in an app – you’ll have things listed that need doing.
But what if someone told you that everything you think you need to do, you probably don’t? And that in actual fact, a list of things you shouldn’t be doing would be more beneficial?
Well, I recently learned that the only way to be truly productive, and to get stuff done, is to do just that. To write a list of things that I’d need to stop doing in order to get the important tasks completed. But before I explain what I’m talking about, let me give you some background by telling you who I am and what I do.
I’m Kim Palmer, 38-years-old, and I work in a senior marketing role in London four days a week. I live with my husband and our three-year-old son, Louis. I’m pregnant with another baby boy, due in April. And lastly, in November, I launched an app called Clementine.
My app is for women who have low in confidence, aren’t sleeping well and feel stressed out. Through hypnotherapy sessions, Clementine guides women to a calmer, happier place. It has cured insomnia, major stress issues and enabled women to face their fear of public speaking.
The idea came about because I went through my own period of acute anxiety and crippling low self-esteem, when I was pregnant with Louis. I had a panic attack in an important meeting, and this led to a fear of presentations. I thought I’d feel better when I went on maternity leave, only it got worse.
Soon, I was having daily panic attacks, distancing myself from friends and I was too embarrassed to even tell my husband. I’d avoid social situations because I was petrified that all eyes would turn to me and I wouldn’t be able to cope with the attention.
I tried talking therapies but they didn’t work, so then I signed up for some hypnotherapy sessions. This really did work. It completely changed my life. I was back to feeling confident, able and happy – so I decided to use my experience to help others.
Starting a business is hugely exciting but when you’re also working nearly full time, commuting, have a relationship and young child to consider, a pregnancy, friends, extended family… well, it can all feel quite overwhelming. But I didn’t want to go back to that dark, anxiety-ridden place, so I started looking at healthy ways to work.
For most of us, ‘getting organised’ starts with writing a list of tasks that need to be done, so I did that. But when I looked at it, I realised so few revolved around my new business. They were mostly household chores. But right now (after family), work is my priority – so I decided the housework could wait.
With this in mind, I started listing the things that I didn’t need to do. The things that didn’t deserve to be prioritised. In fact, some of this stuff could just be forgotten about forever – it really wasn’t important. I called this my NOT to-do list.
Here’s what I put on it:
- No more ironing things that don’t need to be ironed… sheets, pillowcases
- No more aimless pottering around the house, tidying up every day – clean and tidy once a week only
- No more regular trips to the dry-cleaners – wear clothes that can be washed at home
- Less time fussing over my nails (I used to do a weekly manicure in front of the TV)
- Less time bringing my day job home
Once I’d committed to not cleaning my house – except once a week on a Saturday – I felt calm about working from home on Fridays, surrounded by toys and laundry. We have a choice as to how we respond to mess: we can let it grate, or we can mentally brush it to one side. I chose the latter.
But it also freed up so much time. Where once I’d start my work-from-home day cleaning up, now I can sit at my desk, log on to my computer and get on with the tasks that I know will help to grow my business.
And so that’s how I came up with the idea of a NOT to-do list. By taking stock and recognising that most of the stress in my life stems from thinking I need to do things; to tick them off the list, when in actual fact, they don’t matter. I feel utterly liberated and I’m getting a lot more done – and I’m confident that if you give it a try, it could revolutionise your life too.
Words by Kim Palmer