Charlie's Blog: The Not-To-Do List


The Not-To-Do List

“Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

I don't always agree with Tim Ferriss, but I do appreciate Tim Ferriss. He has some good ideas, and I think his best idea is the Not-To-Do List. For most people, doing more is what they are after. They never stop to consider doing less. Subtraction belongs in the toolbox of your life, and I can say that removing things from my life has helped me. Here are the items on my personal Not-To-Do List.

1. Stop watching sports.

I do not watch sports or follow sports. This was not always the case, but I came to this decision in stages. I cancelled my cable TV subscription, and I deleted the preset for the sports radio station from my Walkman. I don't keep up with any of it now. In life, you can watch others do things, or you can do things yourself. For me, time to watch a game is better spent going for a walk.

2. Stop pursuing hobbies.

I define a hobby as the serious pursuit of a worthless activity. I do have worthless activities that I do for momentary fun like playing the kazoo or drawing things on the back of junk mail. I watch birds sometimes from the back step. But I don't go beyond this stuff into serious wastes of time and money like ham radio or car collecting. I definitely don't hunt, fish, or play golf.

3. Stop doing things that you are not good at doing.

This is a corollary to the hobby thing. I gave up guitar playing when I accepted that I was not very good at playing guitar. I switched to the kazoo because I could be just as annoying at a fraction of the cost. I also don't listen to people who think I should do podcasts or a YouTube channel. I am a good writer, but I am not a good speaker. My TBI has only exacerbated this for me. I also stopped writing fiction and poetry. I stick to non-fiction blogging.

4. Torch your bucket list.

I am never going to climb Everest or run a marathon or complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I think all bucket lists are vanity. The only thing I want to do before I die is to be in a state of grace in order to go to Heaven. I don't think dying and becoming a popsicle on Everest is going to help me on that.

5. Stop trying to change other people.

When it comes to other people's problems, I am mostly indifferent. This is because these problems are usually self-inflicted, and people are not going to do what it takes to fix those problems. I pray for people and will give advice if they ask for it. Otherwise, I mind my own business. I have my own problems.

6. Stay off of social media.

Ever since kicking my Twitter addiction some years ago, I vowed to never allow myself to become addicted to social media again. I have kept that vow. Social media is a waste of life.

7. Stop extroverting.

I am an introvert. I can fake being an extrovert when I need to do that, but I am playing out of my position when that happens. I prefer a quiet mode of existence. Consequently, I don't go out to bars and cafes or attend parties and social functions except when it is required. I find people exhausting. My TBI has only exacerbated this for me. I don't care to change this.

8. Stop consuming bad information.

I try to listen to both sides of an argument or an issue. At some point, I have made up my mind, and I can tune out the wrong side. I am never going to become a Protestant again, join the Eastern Orthodox, or go atheist. Similarly, I am never going to become a Marxist. I am not going to become a carnivore meathead or take up triathlon. Knowing these things allows me to ignore a lot of useless blabber.

That's it for my Not-To-Do list. As you get older, you realize how precious time can be. This motivates you to stop wasting it. The Not-To-Do list is a great way to stop wasting time.