The Don't Do List

I know you probably have a big To Do List. But have you ever composed a Don't Do List? Sometimes when life gets too hectic or you need some clarity this tool can be quite helpful. Here are some clues that indicate you may be too busy and it's time for a Don't Do List:

  • You have to buy new underwear because you are too busy to wash the underwear you already have.
  • The only time you have to chill is when you are on the el or bus.
  • The only art you have time to see is the graffiti on the streets.
  • You find yourself making lots of mistakes that you normally would never make. Not just typos but you mistake your nail polish remover as your eye makeup remover.
  • You are missing meals because you don't have time to eat and would just prefer to get in sleep instead of food.
  • Or . . . you only consume smoothies because you simply don't have time for sit-down fork-n-knife style meals nor do you even have time to chew.
  • Do you fantasize about getting in an accident or maybe just getting a sprained ankle so that you will HAVE TO stay home from work?
  • You can't remember the last time you read a book. You know like a novel and not something work related like a Computer Manual. When was the last time you saw a movie? At a theater?
  • You don't look forward to holidays because they have just become more work.
  • You have to drink lots of coffee (or other favorite form of caffeine) just to keep up with your life.
  • You never make plans to do anything because you don't have the energy and you'd rather spend your Saturday night on the couch sans people because you don' have energy to be social.
  • You become furious when you have to wait on anything as those moments could be valuable time you could be working on something.
  • You can't remember the last time you wore something that wasn't built for speed. No wonder track suits are so popular.
  • Your idea of a vacation is taking the purple line to Evanston for an afternoon.
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Is this your new breakfast because you are too busy to eat real food? (Artwork created by the fabulous Natalie Dee. Check out

I admit I have recently become too busy working two jobs, advising clients, writing this blog (which I really do love), marketing, composing monthly newsletters, and volunteering for my favorite charities. It's not easy saying no or doing less. Also, many of us for financial reasons have to work one or more gigs. Then again others just love to be busy. Being busy in our society is like being popular in school. We all want to be one of the cool kids.
As a person who has had many health challenges, I do not want to get sick again. Burnout is insidious. I decided it was time to write my own Don't Do List. Actually its more of a To Do Later List. Right now I have put my focus on work that pays my bills. I may not do laundry 3x a week, twice a week is good enough. I may blog just two times a week sometimes instead of three (sorry!). I may write my newsletters seasonally instead of monthly. I love to cook but preparing sea veggies at the end of a 14 hour day isn't going to happen even for this health counselor. So I may pick up healthy food from Karyn's or grab a meal from the hot bar at Whole Foods. I'll cook on my one full day off a week. I will spend less time on Facebook and Twitter. I will watch only one or two T.V. shows a week (I gotta watch Top Chef). I may not be able to attend as many social functions while I'm in this transitional period. No one wants a my crabby tired self at their party anyway. One day I may not have to have two jobs but right now I need REST.
In composing your own list think about what you can delegate? What is not that important? Making a list like this isn't easy. It's hard to say no but it is really empowering. You are the CEO of your own life after all.
The concept of a To Don't List was created by Joshua Rosenthal of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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