The Not to Do List
We love lists. List for the shopping, list for the house work, lists for what we need to buy once we get paid, list for listing what lists we need to make. Well, turns out some of the best companies in the world, the really ‘great’ companies, focus on their ‘not to do list’ in order to get really great. What’s a ‘not to do’ list you ask? Well it’s just that, a list of stuff that adds no value and you should be completely unapologetic about saying no too.
Strip the Waste
If we think about what things we do on a daily basis, there is a lot of stuff we could strip out. Netflix binging, Instagram scrolling, YouTube searching… the list goes on. Well it turns out that the great companies look at what they do today, where the get the most benefit revenue, profit, customer satisfaction — whatever the metric and they double down on that and forget the rest. And that is as good, if not better than writing all the things you need to do.
We often get overwhelmed with the huge mountain of ‘stuff’ we need to do in order to achieve what we need to. But the ‘not to do list’ questions whether this ‘thing’ is a value add or just a item on the list. The same concept is true for the lean manufacturing model — by simply asking what can we do to strip out waste, what is really hurting us and is unnecessary, where are we losing time and not adding any value, we get a model as lean as Toyota car manufacturing. But what if we applied that to the way we work?
Skip the Meeting
So, what would happen if you didn’t go to that meeting because you didn’t really need to be there but you’re just being courteous. What if you only scheduled in two times a day to look at your emails instead of having the tab open all day and watch them pop up every time, each time being a distraction to what you are doing. There a studies that show we can’t multi-task so if you are half way through an important report and an email pops up, it will distract you and it will take you some time to get back into it. Do we really get more done by turning up early and leaving late or is evidence of poor time management and not stripping enough stuff out? Is this evidence that we aren’t utilising the ‘not to do’ list? Emailing is an interesting concept because traditionally emails were long, detailed, contained information we need to make a decision — now emails can often turn into email ping-pong.
How many times have you sent an email to organise a meeting, you get one email back that says ‘yes Thursday is good’ you get another back to say ‘Thursday is no good for me, Friday is good’ the last person emails back two hours later ‘Both days don’t work, can we do next week’. Another email is sent out by you to propose the Monday the following week only to find out that ‘oh I forgot I’m on holiday next week’. We all know it’s a waste of time but we do it anyway. The same is true for meeting without the correct people there or meetings for the sake of meetings — the question then becomes is this potentially a ‘not to do’.
What would happen if we created a ‘not to do list’, stop going to meetings that don’t have proper agendas, stop emails when a text or phone call would be better, stop writing long reports that no-one reads and try a different format instead…
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on February 22, 2020.