The Not-To-Do List

I've been listening to The Tim Ferriss Show this past week. His interviews make for easy listening, like listening to a couple of friends having an interesting conversation over a glass of wine – some really interesting friends.
In one of his shows Tim talks to Seth Godin about everything from oatmeal vodka to travel. Apparently, Seth, who doesn’t drink, brews oatmeal vodka in his basement for visitors. Vodka aside, what I found most interesting about this conversation was how much Seth dislikes travel, at least for speaking engagements. In fact, he actively discourages people from inviting him to speak at events that involve travel by exponentially raising his speaking fee. For instance, it will cost you 3-times as much to have Seth speak at your LA event as it would to have him speak at your NYC event.
Seth is onto something, travel is disruptive and a pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting new places, but I generally don’t enjoy the trip, the transit part is tiring and disruptive. So, when Tim spoke about creating a Not-To-Do List in another show, I decided to add travel to my Not-To-Do list for a while.
A Not-To-Do list is the exact opposite of a To-Do list; a list of things to avoid during the day so that you remain productive. Things like email, answering unknown calls, responding to messages etc.
At the end of the podcast I made a Not-To-Do List of my own, starting with these five:
  1. Do not travel unless you absolutely have too – and if you do, take the most direct route. Taking the cheapest route usually means more time traveling, leaving you physically and mentally exhausted for days after the trip. I believe most things can be done remotely nowadays, I intended putting that to the test even more.
  2. Do not be an email junkie ... or Slack, or Skype. I used to be really good about email, checking it only a couple of times a day. Now I find myself tapping the refresh button more frequently – like a junkie looking for a fix. From now on I intend checking email only 3-times a day, and turning off IM notifications. 
  3. Do not break routine. Having a daily routine helps me be more productive. Starting the day with exercise and mediation, the morning dedicated to writing (my creative time), using midday to learn a new skill (Italian lessons), and working through my tasks until about 8pm.
  4. Do not be a slave to a digital leash. Working remotely I don’t get many calls, but there are constant disruptions from various mobile apps. Now I switch to flight mode in the morning and leave the leash at home when I go out for dinner. It always amazes me how many people sit across the table from one another using their mobile devices – we’ve lost the art of conversation.
  5. Do not say yes. I’m really bad at this one. I tend to commit to things when I should rather say NO. We have a limited amount of time on this planet, it’s time to spend my time wisely, pursuing the things that matter to me, and that means saying NO.

Tim has 9 things on his Not-To-Do List, you can find it here.
I’ve started with these 5, weaning myself off travel will take a couple of months alone. 
What’s on your Not-To-Do List?