175: The To-Don't List


Nice episode. The idea of a “to-don’t list” is intriguing—can you share the link to the article mentioned in the podcast? Thanks.

Sorry, thought I included it! Here’s the Apple News link: Why Everyone Should Have a 'To-Don't List', According to This Harvard Professor (and 8 Ideas on What to Add to Yours)


It reminds me of one of Barrack Obama’s speeches where he said he didn’t have a bucket list but he had a “rhymes with bucket” list.


Thanks, @mikeschmitz

Asking someone to do work on your house and not answering their calls is weird. If not plain rude. Just sayin’.

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I haven’t listened yet but is this comment in reference to what is said in the episode?

Yep. Just before the 20 minute mark. Don’t know what’s worse, the rude behavior – the poor guy apparently called 4 times – or the silly giggling about it in the podcast.

Let’s remember that we don’t have the full context. If the worker was supposed to arrive at the house that day to do work, I’d agree. But we don’t know that’s the case (and I’d be surprised if it was).

Hiring someone to work on your house isn’t a promise to answer every call from them as soon as it comes in, or to return the call immediately if you missed it.

We wouldn’t expect doctors to have a super-quick response time if someone called. They might be with patients or in surgery. Nor would we expect it from professors. They might be in class, or in a committee meeting, or helping students in office hours.

So why should we expect it of someone who works for himself?

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The way I deal with this is, I use the Pomodoro technique to focus on a task. After 25 minutes, I take a 5 minute break. The first thing I do is check my phone for any notifications that might have come in during that 25 minutes. If it was a call from a contractor, I would call that person back. Most of the time, I can ignore the notifications, but if it is important, the most a person would have to wait is 25 minutes. I think this is a good compromise to being instantly available every minute of the day and making someone wait 8 hours.

If that works well for your situation, that’s a great way to do it. (In my own case, some days that would work well, other days not.)

To-don’t lists combined with identity-based forming of habits can be powerful. E.g., we aren’t one of those houses that glows blue at night. Avoiding that image restricts when and how our family uses screens.

So now we’re spending time writing down what we’re not going to do? Hmmmmm…I think I’ll give that a miss.

Can I politely check if you were intentionally being ironic (by writing down something that you weren’t going to do)?

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No, but I do see the irony! However, this isn’t my todo list but a discussion thread.