ADHD and The ‘Don’t Do’ List!

018JCKYVRZADHDers love to be productive; they will forfeit sleep, exercise and many other vital activities in order to get stuff done’.(Of course, sleep and exercise increase productivitybut that is a topic for another day).

It is a great feeling to start the day with a brand new To-Do list, but by the evening, you can feel very discouraged if you didn’t get to cross everything off.

This is where the ‘Dont Do’ list comes in.

The Dont Do List idea comes from 2 articles I read that reframe the concept of productivity. Rather than productivity just being about what you Do, it is also about what you Dont Do.

The idea is that by saying no to little demands and distractions on your time, you will have lot more time to do the important, big picture tasks. The type of tasks that require focused concentration.

Your Don’Do list is different from your To-Do list as it remains fairly constant every day.

Here are some ideas to include on your Don’Do list:

1. Dont eat sugar (donuts, cereal, etc.) for breakfast.

You will have a sugar crash 2 hours later, which makes it harder to focus and pay attention to your tasks.

2. Dont switch on the TV in the morning

It can grab your attention and make it difficult to leave the house for work etc.

3. Dont check your phone more than once per hour

4. Dont multi-task

It feels good, but it means getting less done; not more.

5.  Dont have your inbox open all day

6. Dont act on every thought you have!

Instead, write the thoughts down so you dont forget them and continue with your task.

7.  Dont start a hyperfocus activity 

Unless you have a block of uninterrupted time, you could miss important meetings, etc.

8.   Dont have more than 3 tabs open on your computer at once

If this sounds like a challenge, try Tabless Thursday

9.  Dont check Facebook until the evening

10.  Dont go to bed past midnight

It is surprising how quickly new ‘dont do’ habits become your new normal.

What is going to be on your Don’Do list?

Thanks, Jocelyn K. Glei and Jim Collins, for the great ideas.


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  1. Colleen says:

    Don’t compare yourself with others!

  2. Bruce Black says:

    So if it’s after midnight I have to stay up all night?

    Don’t reward/play without doing something first to earn it, even if it’s a little chore.
    Don’t ignore/dismiss alerts. -Sounds silly, but I do it all the time. Maybe have some kind of little routine like at least stand up or clap your hands to break focus for a few seconds to really decide if this alert can be ignored/dismissed…?
    Don’t beat yourself up for being human.
    Don’t think too much / Don’t overplan. -I can overwhelm myself into paralysis envisioning all the work I have to do instead of focussing on what’s next.
    Don’t confuse urgent for important. / Don’t get seduced. -Something pops up (idea, curiosity, recall); make a note but go back to Plan A.
    Don’t assume. / Don’t mindread. -Those imagined conversations, projections; Socially speaking, check it out with the other party.
    Don’t plan/schedule (just) work/chores. -Something to look forward to helps my momentum.
    Don’t get bogged down in the details if it’s not important. -Sometimes that hyperfocus leads to unwarranted perfectionism.
    Don’t squander your time commenting online. -Opps.

    I don’t know if it’s ADHD but I find it much much easier to go cold turkey rather than “cut back” / control activities I wish to stop. On the other hand, I can get myself to start activities by making the smallest possible start. Exercise? I’ll start with 2 minutes a day… I try to make my To Do’s small, and my Don’t’s absolute.

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