A Not-To-Do List

in GTD, Personal Creative Explorations

Today is the day you start your project.

Wake up. Make your coffee. Sit down. Get to work.

Now, it should be that simple. Wake up and get to work.

But there are many distractions. Mental and otherwise.

So this is NOT a to-do list. This is a not-to-do list. You don’t need to check anything off, because these are things YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO.

Do not check your email.
Do not go to nytimes.com.
Do not decide to organize your cd rack.
Do not turn on the television.
Do not clip your nails.
Do not stare at your bald spot in the mirror and begin to calculate how much time your hair has left.
Do not start catching up on the DVDs that have arrived from Netflix.
Do not update your Netflix queue.
Do not Google all your Exes.
Do not Google yourself.
Do not dust the house.
Do not sweep the floors.
Do not take out the trash.
Do not get sucked into the argument when your significant other starts screaming about the fact that you drank the last of the milk and even though you said you would get more you didn’t. Just apologize, apologize, and then apologize again. (But don’t be tempted to apologize "for being such a horrible person" – that is a sign that you are getting drawn into a bigger dust-up. Stay on target with your apology, explain that you have serious work to do, and get back to your project.)
Do not decide to make yourself an elaborate lunch.
Do not take a nap.
Do not change the cat litter.
Do not decide to figure out the calorie count of your recent meals.
Do not pay your bills.
Do not balance your checkbook.
Do not freak out that you have no money.
Do not go into the bathroom and give your Academy Award acceptance speech.
Do not put on Prince and party like it’s 1999. (Well, okay, maybe ONCE, just to get you fired up about your project.)
Do not start going through your closet.
Do not decide to floss.
Do not organize your spice rack.
Do not update your address book.
Do not make a list of things to do.
Do not watch Oprah.
Do not listen to NPR.
Do not start to think you don’t have what it takes to actually do your project.
Do not read any further on this post – caught you! Stop reading now and get to work on your project.
Do not check what time the movie is playing later.
Do not decide to send an angry email to that annoying friend who recently pissed you off.
Do not play with the cats.
Do not clip your nose hairs.
Do not start trying to organize a dinner party.
Do not start wondering if that mole that seems a little bigger than the last time you checked it might be skin cancer.
Do not start going through all the papers on your desk.
Do not make a list of all the things you have to get done at work.
Do not start thinking you are never going to finish.
Do not make a quick run to the grocery store.
Do not search for gray hairs.
Do not start fantasizing about sex.
Do not decide to make a call to your significant other to tell him or her that you don’t think you’ve been getting any, and that you better damn well get some tonight (you know, because that one works every time).
Do not go to IMDB to see who that actor was in that movie you saw the other night. Or what that girl from that show from way back when is doing now.
Do not start perusing your own bookshelves.
Do not organize your computer files.
Do not clean out your inbox.
Do not click into the online gossip sites.
Do not pick your nose.
Do not start reading old letters from old flames.
Do not crack open a beer.
Do not pluck your eyebrows.
Do not to give yourself a facial.
Do not start going through your photos.
Do not return your phone calls.
Do not start reading your old journal entries.
Do not start thinking about how your project is lame.
Do not scrub the tub.
Do not clean the toilet.
Do not open a bottle of wine.
Do not start wading through all the magazines you subscribe to but never read.
Do not decide to start a screenplay (unless, of course, that is your project).
Do not post to your blog.
Do not pull the ATM receipts out of your wallet and start entering withdrawals into your checkbook.
Do not get up and keep getting yourself a glass of water.
Do not refill the ice trays.
Do not do the dishes.
Do not start picking off the wax on your candle holders.
Do not start worrying about all the time you’ve already wasted.

There are a million more things that could be on this list, but remember, it’s not a to-do list, so it doesn’t matter if something is missing — you are NOT supposed to be doing these things. Just get to work on your project.

–Jeffrey Yamaguchi

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