Chris Guillebeau's “The To-Stop-Doing” List

Sep 15, 2010
4 Min Read

When I opened my mailbox this morning, I’d received a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s “The Art of Nonconformity.” In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Chris for a few years and actually provided a quote of support for the book.

Chris is not your average business book writer.  He served as a volunteer for a medical charity in West Africa from 2002-2006, and after relocating to the U.S. and entering graduate school at the University of Washington, he began actively traveling to countries like Burma, Uganda, Iraq, and Pakistan.  Along the way, he has published a blog and several manifestos that aim to help people create passion-oriented lives while serving others.

The "To-Stop-Doing" List

In “The Art of Nonconformity,” Chris provides several strategies for letting go of distractions and focusing on what’s really important.  The ever-practical me particularly enjoyed the idea of the “The To-Stop-Doing" List.  Says Chris:

“An important principle of life planning is that you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything at the same time.  To be able to devote most of your time to projects and activities you enjoy, you’ll need to be forceful about dropping a lot of other activities.  A to-stop-doing list is better than a to-do list because it helps you see what’s bringing you down.  Your 'to-stop-doing' list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of things you simply don’t want to do anymore.”

How to Create One

  • Think about tasks that drain your energy without contributing to anything worthwhile.
  • Come up with a list of at least 3-5 things you currently do that suck your time and keep your focus away from more important tasks.
  • Consider whether leaving these tasks undone or removing them from your weekly activities will result in negative repercussions, and if you will be able to cope with those repercussions.

As a result of making my own “to-stop-doing” list, I decided to outsource my housecleaning and exercise at home on busy days instead of forcing myself to spend 2 hours on the whole gym experience.  I also came to the conclusion – and this hurt a little – that I simply can’t respond to every e-mail I receive.

What are you removing from your list?

Recomended Posts