Why I have a stop doing list

It’s not a secret to those that know me, that I love lists and organization and all things ‘type A’. I have notebooks and sticky notes, napkins, you name it that have been devoted to a to-do list at one point or another. I have for years relished in the moment that you get to cross off a task from a list, it’s one of the most satisfying things I can think of. It helps me stay more productive and keep things that I’m working on on my radar, even if they won’t be crossed off in a day.

But what about the negatives? By negatives, I mean the habits and instincts you’re trying NOT to do. Things like biting your nails, or cursing, whatever those ‘bad habits’ may be for you. How do you track progress on those things? How do you stay aware of what you’re working on being better at?

That’s where the ‘stop doing’ list comes in. A while back, I was reading through an article with a master list of productivity and efficiency tips. The stop doing list jumped out at me. Why would you have a list bringing all those bad habits to the forefront? Wouldn’t keeping a list of them just remind you of them and make you more likely to do those things? Maybe. But, a lot of those habits are also second nature to you by now. They might happen without a lot of forethought anyways.

Writing down, and keeping track of, the things that you are actively working on not doing, can be extremely helpful. I write one each morning now, writing the three things that I don’t want to do that day. Writing it down makes me more conscious of it, yes, but these are things that I truly don’t want to do. So reminding myself of them and why they’re not beneficial to my life actually helps to not engage in those behaviors.

The feeling of crossing a behavior off my ‘stop doing’ list for the day is extremely satisfying. By writing the list fresh each day, it makes it a small, achievable goal, making it easier to stick to not doing it and forming new habits instead. Didn’t bite my nails today? Check. Didn’t eat lunch at my desk? Check.

Here are some of the things on my ‘stop doing’ list:

  • Stop eating lunch at my desk. Instead, eat somewhere that’s more conducive to eating mindfully.

  • Stop taking things too personally.

  • Stop biting my nails.

  • Stop jumping between tasks when you see a new email come in.

  • Stop checking my phone unnecessarily.

  • Stop slouching.

Do you have a stop doing list? Do you think it’s a terrible idea? Either way, let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.