Success-Failure SignWhen Jim Collins makes a plan for the new year, before designating new projects, he identifies three things he wants to stop doing.

Collins, author of Good to Great, says having a not-to-do list is as important for achieving your goals as a to-do list.

First, the to-dos as recommended by Gary Bencivenga, author of Success Bullets.

  • Apply the famous 80/20 rule to your work. About 20 percent of your activities are responsible for 80 percent of your success. Give those activities a high priority. Review your to-do list every day.
  • Rise an hour earlier and give your highest-payoff activities your attention. Earl Nightingale claimed that if you spend this hour in study of your field, you will be an expert in five years.
  • Slow down. Everything is not urgent or important. Define matters that will improve your work and life. Do those things well, though you sometimes have to ignore other things.

Your not-to-do list

  1. Don’t answer email in the morning. Let phone calls coming from people you don’t recognize go to voice mail.
  2. Don’t overcommunicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers. Discover which customers are responsible for your profits and which just take up your time.
  3. Don’t carry your to-do-list in your head. It will perpetually nag you so you won’t be able to think as well on priority work.
  4. Don’t multitask. Doing two things at once brings a poor result for both.
  5. Never agree to go to a meeting that has no clear agenda, recommends Tim Harris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week.