DON'T Do List

Last week agent Rachelle Gardner had a great post about how to manage time. (To read it click here.) I was particularly struck by the concept of a DONT Do List.

Here's what she said: I guess another big secret to my time-management strategy is the list of things I DON'T do. I've dispensed with a lot of non-necessary things in life... things I'd like to do if I could! But the path I've chosen means I've had to let go of some things.

She went on to list quite a few things she doesn't do in order to make time for her work. Her point was that there are a LOT of very good things we can do, maybe are doing. But in order to have time for our writing, we may need to sacrifice many of those things.

Whether published or not, most of us are struggling to squeeze writing time around the myriad of other responsibilities and activities that demand our attention.

We live in a culture that's constantly on the move, taking trips, going to movies, shopping at the mall, running errands, playing sports, and the list goes on. If you have kids the activities double, even triple with ballet, choir, baseball, 4-H, cub scouts, soccer, piano lessons, drama club, and on and on. Our modern culture is a wheel of never ending activities, spinning faster and faster. We often get sucked in for the dizzying ride.

The bottom line is that we can't do everything and still have time to write. We'll have to make sacrifices, especially if we're serious about pursuing publication.

Here's what's on my Don't Do List: I don't bake much even though I love to, I don't watch TV except for one favorite show, I don't make elaborate meals for my family, I don't get involved in many activities for myself, I rarely shop at the mall, I don't clean my whole house every week, I definitely don't iron, I don't go to movies, I don't read the newspaper or magazines, I don't read new releases as much as I'd love to, and I don't show hospitality the way I used to.

Now it's your turn to share! What are you sacrificing to make time for writing? What's on your Don't Do List?


  1. Definitely no TV--except American Idol and 24. :) (But now that they're done for the season, I'm good to go. LOL!)
    I find myself making more "30 minute meals", too, where I used to spend more time in the kitchen.
    I live in a very social neighborhood with people popping in and getting together for dinner a lot, but that's on the weekends when I don't write anyway.

  2. I definitely need to expand my Don't Do List, because I would have more time to write if I did. I'm glad A. Idol and DWTS is over, because I got hooked in. And I can't seem to quit reading after I crawl in bed. I could be writing. But the worst time sucker for me is blogging. Or rather, reading blogs. I have way too many in my Reader and need to let go of some, but it is so hard with all the friends I have made. How do you do it????

  3. I do not scrapbook regularly, although I still have it on my dreams list, LOL. I do not have a meticilous house. I am not mom of the year by any means although I try my best. My kids are going to be limited to ONE extra curricular activity vs playing baseball, gymnastics, ballet, cheerleading, swimming.... *grin*. We eat a lot of macaroni and cheese and do fastfood probably more than we should. I watch only a little TV. I don't do a lot of extra stuff with my church because it's almost 30 minutes away from us, so that'd be an hour traveling in the evening to go.

    SOmeday, I hope to be able to rebalance and get a little more things in there, like better dinners for kiddos and to be able to do more at church, but right now God completely understands and I am so content that I know that I"m pursueing what he's called me to do.

  4. My list resembles yours. I don't clean as often, I cut baking out for the most part--we didn't need it anyways, I never shop anymore99only cause I can't afford to anymore) and I try to limit my phone time!

  5. Cleaning as much as I should. Getting my gardens thinned as early as I should. Watching tv except for at bed time when I usually have a book in hand as well. Individual errands--I save them all up and run a bunch at one time.

    I know there is more, but that's what comes to mind right away.

    Interesting spin, Jody!

  6. Isn't it amazing how often writing gets bumped to the bottom when the To-DO list is so long. You could have written my Don't-Do list, it just about mirrors yours. Especially tv, which I rarely watch, shopping is done in a couple large outings rather than small frequent trips, cooking is basic and not time consuming, I never get to magazines ... When I stop to think of it, it's amazing how much I don't do in order to write!

  7. I think I need to be more careful of the Don't Do list that I have created as I am afraid I devote TOO much time to blogs and writing that I Don't Do some of the more important things. Like sadly right now my children are watching TV when they should probably be doing an art project of something of the creative sort. Time is such a funny, limited thing!

  8. I loved the idea of a don't do list. Here are some of mine: iron, watch TV, keep a spotless house, groom my pet, attend PTO meetings, wash windows, recently let scrapbooking go by the wayside, clutter my schedule with "lunches", plant dozens of flowers or weed often enough, take care of laundry mountain, finally I don't feel like I have to be has really helped me--embracing that!
    ~ Wendy

  9. Don't do's?? Hmmmm... TV, late night chats w/ husband *sad sigh*, cleaning more than the basics....

    But, it is not all the time and I think it is worth some sacrifices.

  10. I don't enjoy most television, so I catch up on my magazines--have I mentioned my mag addiction?--and reading at night. Shopping annoys me, so I rarely hit the stores.

    Things I do enjoy that I don't have time for anymore? Quilting, crocheting, meandering walks at the park, idle hours wandering through a museum, and studying in-depth the topic of my choice. I miss these things, but I will make time for them in the future. They just don't fit now.

  11. hmm...I don't iron, or make a fetish of housework. I don't shop at the mall or cook unless I have to (I do the grocery shopping and the cooking is the chore of the eldest daughter -- what we'll do when she goes to college next year is a mystery...I wonder if my son will be a good cook?)

    I don't volunteer as much as I used to, and I don't cross-stitch anymore. I don't watch as many movies as I once did (while cross-stitching.)

    But it's very worth it! Because I get to WRITE. :)

  12. I don't do:
    cleaning ...

    umm ...


    I wish those were the ones I could NOT DO! :)

  13. This is GREAT! I loved Rachelle's post. Often, I let guilt suck me down. I think of the things I SHOULD do. Like I should teach Sunday school at my church, I should cook meals every night for my family, I should work out every single day. I should create awesome lesson plans every day for my students.

    But I can't do those things. It all comes down to priorities.

    What comes first? God, obviously, Second is family. Third, is writing. Then comes every thing else.

    So what do I do instead of my shoulds..

    Hubby and I are greeters at church once a month, a less intensive way to get involved.

    Hubby does the majority of the cooking. He's wonderful.

    I stick to the curriculum, do my best, treat my students with kindness and respect, and spice it up when there's time

    And this last one is my favorite. When I go on walks, I take my dog and read a book while I walk. I probably look like a freak, but talk about awesome multitasking. I get to read, work out, and exercise my pooch all in one go-round. :)

  14. No t.v. for me. And I don't participate in any extracurricular activities. Neither does my daughter - though that is her choice and not mine. She just has no interest in sports, etc. That gives me a lot more free time in the evenings and on the weekends.

  15. My list is remarkably similar to yours. I've had to put more and more on it in the last several months but my husband has stepped up and helps around the house a lot. And now, when I have my family time, it's that much more precious.

  16. I don't answer the phone all the time. I figure some messages can wait for the break in my schedule. That has been a big time saver because it allows me to focus for longer stretches of time.

  17. Loved your blog about letting go of some things. I have been trying to do that for about six months. I used to watch DVDs a lot. I rarely have time now. I have a very simple garden, I quit the quest for new home furnishings ideas, and I have done less church activities so I could pray more and write about my faith.
    Thanks for coming to my blog.

  18. I guess I'm like you all. I don't go to the mall or watch a ton of tv, though I've been known to go on House binges. LOL

    I loved that post of hers. Time management is so important. I'm still learning what's good for me and what's not.

  19. I struggle with this one. I'm aware that I need to "don't" do some things. The biggest would be to "don't" read as much as I do. But truthfully, that wouldn't give me nearly as much writing time as it might seem, since writing for me requires dedicated time, and reading doesn't always. I read while I do a host of other things. I can't write that way.

    Still, I really need to give this more consideration.

  20. I don't go to bed early. I don't clean up as many toys. I don't pay attention to what people are saying around me and I frequently don't say god bless you when people sneeze. All of this making an angry mob at my dwelling.

  21. Okay, guys, no guffaws. This probably would win Chip MacGregor's Bad Poetry Contest. I started writing, and this is what came out. Usually, I keep all attempts at poetry under lock and key.

    You'd think my life would be a breeze with hubby in heaven and no kiddies at my knee.

    But like an empty closet
    My schedule soon becomes full.
    The key to success is choosing
    What activities will rule.

    There it is. One thing I've given up: poetry. TV is minimal. Crafts and crocheting still try to woo me, but I've resisted (although I'm seriously toying with making a navy blue afghan for the spare room). Cooking - thank God for Mom or I'd live on TV dinners. Cleaning - I'm not as fussy as I was 10 years ago.

    Susan :)

  22. I like the idea of a don't do list. I've cut out a lot of superfluous things lately. I've almost completely cut out crafts and painting and significantly cut down on the music practice and I rarely go shopping anymore--only when I have to.

  23. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing this, Jody.
    I don't watch t.v., but will see an occasional old movie on dvd with my hus. That's a must.
    I don't clean house until it's unbearable, but that's no sacrifice! HA!
    I don't go to yard sales like i used to; those eat up loads of time and energy.
    Like you, I don't entertain as much as I used to, unless you count making people laugh at my writing!

  24. I have definitely cut down on TV a lot to make time for writing. Cleaning the house is always low on my list... although I'm not sure I would call that a sacrifice. I should probably move some of my Internet activity onto the DO NOT DO side of my list, but that is a tough one.

  25. I cut back on tv as well. But with three kids I find there are not a lot of things I "don't do" except maybe sleep:)

  26. Jody,
    I don't have as much of a "Don't Do" list as I need to. But, I will be developing one! I'm stalled on entering editing changes on a book into my computer. Why?


  27. The two big dont's are things that I really love:

    running and sailing.

    I need to get back to running at least.

    I don't watch tv, except for Lost once a week.

    That's a don't I am going to stick with.


© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!