November 2007: The STOP Doing List

My friend Hilary and I were talking the other day about how we are trying to do less instead of more. She came up with this concept of the stop doing list. I think it’s great. So many of us are trying to do too much and yet feel that we have to keep taking on new things and we don’t like to say no so we don’t drop any of the old things. The end result is that we are all stressed out and tired! I think we need to find balance and stop doing certain things in order to make time for new things that come into our lives.

I have decided to hire a housekeeper. It is one of the best decisions I have made. It frees me up to do the things I really want and need to do. I was a die-hard house cleaner. Why should I pay someone to do something I am perfectly capable of doing? Well, I bit the bullet so they say and let go of that part of my life and guess what? It’s great! I now have more time to make meals and go for bike rides with my husband.

I have decided to cancel some of my magazine subscriptions. I have magazines come to the house and no time to read them. Sound familiar? I know a few of you are nodding your heads! I decided to cancel my membership to the gym for the same reason. I am paying for something I am not using. No time to go to the gym. Guess what? I am walking three times a week and it’s not costing me a dime!

Now that the holidays are fast approaching, take a look at your to do list and see if you can shave off a few things. Who says we have to do it all? How many of us are really enjoying the holidays. I can remember wrapping gifts past midnight on Christmas Eve and vowing never again. Planning ahead is a half the battle. Delegating is great! I used to write the holiday family newsletter and address every single envelope and write a personal note in every single card. Now I get my husband the write the newsletter. He’s a much better writer than I am anyway. I have put all my friends, family, client names into contact system and print out labels! Presto! Card sending made simple!

Prioritize. Make a list of everything and then decide which things are most important and which things are less important and finally which things no longer fit in with your life and your values. As women, we like to believe that we are indispensable but I have news for you, we are not! If we do our jobs right, our partners, children, parents etc. will manage just fine when we are not around. Just because you chaired a committee for 10 years, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. Give someone else a chance and believe me when I tell you, someone will step in. I hear so many people say, if I don’t do it – no one will. I have yet to see an organization or group fold because no one wanted to step up to the plate.

It’s using the in/out principle of decluttering. Buy one new thing and give away another. When taking on something new, try and see if you can give up something else. For those of you already doing too much, try saying no a little more often and try to eliminate a few things from your list. Make a stop doing list today!