If you’re anything like me, you probably link productivity to making to-do lists. Teasing tasks out of your head and onto paper, only to satisfyingly cross them off as you get them done. It just feels so good! Productivity and prioritizing go hand in hand, and to-do lists are an excellent way to accomplish both. Sometimes …

Endless list-making has it’s downsides too. Queue reams of sticky notes, lists to organize your to-do lists, colour coded notebooks, highlighters and even sticky note notepads. Add the million and one productivity apps like Evernote, Trello and the self proclaimed masterful To Do List open on your dashboard and you’ve got your self a ‘To-Do’ list nightmare.

This highly (in)efficient, maze of organization that forever kept me on the brink of being completely organized led me to think that there must be another way of doing it. As in event planning, when you’re solving a problem often the solution is looking at it from the opposite direction. Instead of reading through reams and reams of ‘To-Do’ lists, it’s often easier to just get to grips with what NOT to do. So, here it is.

Enter…the NOT-to-do list

1. Don’t answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number.

Everybody wants your time and attention, but if you don’t know who’s calling, chances are it’s not urgent. Let them leave a voicemail or a text and get back to them later. Unsolicited, anonymous phone calls will steer you off track.


2. Don’t look at email first thing in the morning.

Nobody wants to start their day with 46 unread emails of things you absolutely have to get done today. Schedule a designated time in the morning in which check your inbox and stick to it! As Brendon Burchard says: “Remember the inbox is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” You’ll save yourself some valuable time by dedicating your energy to your own agenda. (And if you’re finding those emails are from your ever demanding boss, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.)


3. Do not accept unplanned meeting requests

You know what I’m talking about – those sneaky meetings that just go on, and on, and on with little to no productive outcome. Unless there is a clear agenda with objectives and outlines, an unplanned meeting will be a major time-waster for you. Keep it clean, clear, and concise, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your time.


4. Do not work at the cost of sleep.

Every minute before midnight is worth an hour after and your productivity is significantly higher in the morning hours. You’re of no use to anyone feeling and performing like a zombie, so make sure you catch your beauty sleep and your work (and no-puff eyes) will thank you later.


5. Do not attend meetings longer than 45 minutes.

It’s just common sense. Energy and creativity decreases. Anything longer triggers brain fog, coffee cravings, and that irritable impulse to shout at someone to ‘HURRY THIS THING UP, ALREADY!’ Better to break your super-meeting up into two smaller ones to save you the hassle.

Sage Words

Two ways of approaching problems. Copying other systems isn’t always the best route, although sometimes great in pulling inspirational direction from.

What is on your NOT-to-do list?


Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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