Leadership Series Part 3

Stop So You Can Go

This is the third in a series of posts that tackle the most misunderstood and under utilized skill in business environments. Leadership is influence and the difference between being good and being great.

Chasing your dream takes a lot of grit, courage, and a go-go-go attitude. There are things that must be done so that you can get to the next level or the next step. Everyone has a To-Do List, an Action List, a grocery list, and so on. It helps keep you on track and keeps you focused on your day. What you may not realize, though, is that there is an equally, if not more, important list that you should attend to. This list does more than identify what you should be doing next. It tells you what to avoid, how to maximize your time, and how to be more productive. We call this the Stop Doing List.

What is a Stop Doing List?

A Stop Doing List does exactly what the name says. It’s a list of things that you should stop doing because:

  1. It takes up too much of your time.

  2. It hinders your progress.

  3. It renders you ineffective.

  4. It can be delegated to someone else.

  5. Any or all of the above.

The Stop Doing List helps us prioritize the important over the urgent. When I first started putting together my own Stop Doing List, the #1 thing on it was to stop spending so much time on emails. I used to spend a tremendous amount of time on writing and responding to emails. It’s the perfectionist in me. I know that I’m not talking to that person face-to-face so I want the email to be just right in terms of tone and wording. I realized that I was not able to accomplish a lot of my tasks because the emails were taking up so much time. My priority should be on the tasks, not the emails. Yet, the emails took the lion share of my precious time. Month after month, my goals were pushed to the following month because I didn’t have time for them in that particular month. Now, I check emails once in the morning and, maybe, once at night. That’s it. And, it’s working. I’m getting a lot more done because I’ve put those constraints on my work day. It has allowed me to flourish and be a lot more productive.

How Do I Know What Goes on the Stop Doing List?

Reflection is one of the best ways to find out what should go on your Stop Doing List. This is a great exercise that anyone can do, and you don’t even have to spend a lot of time on it. When I first started, I used to reflect once a month. It became a daily practice when I decided that I really wanted to get to the root of what was holding me back.

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can set a timer to keep yourself on track. Pen and paper will be handy for jotting down your thoughts; a journal is a great way to keep track of your reflections. Sit back, breathe, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I doing?

  • How am I spending my time?

  • Are there things that I need to stop doing?

  • What went well today?

  • What didn’t go well today?

  • What did I wish went well today?

  • What could have made my day better? Or, more productive?

  • What did I hate? Why did I hate it?

  • What really bugs me about today?

  • What is bothering me?

Your answers to these questions can help reveal the things that you need to stop doing.

If you hate filling out forms, is there an administrative assistant who can take that off your hands?