What’s On Your To-Don’t List?

This has been the question rattling around my head ever since Siobhan sent me this Telegraph U.K. article yesterday. The author, Daniel H. Pink—who Siobhan interviewed for GOOD when she worked there—is expounding on a simple but interesting principle:

“What you decide not to do is probably more important than what you decide to do.”

According to Pink and other time management experts, unlike the to-d0, the to-don’t list is not the kind of thing you rewrite every day. He says he revisits his a couple of times a year and that he keeps it in plain sight by his desk. Here’s Pink’s list:

Don’t answer email during peak morning writing hours;

Don’t accept meetings or conference calls initiated by others that you wouldn’t have initiated yourself;

Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon;

Don’t go to sleep after 11pm.

Sounds like rules to live by to me (hello, number two). But what are my dont’s? Well, that’s the thing: A to-don’t list cannot be treated lightly! I need to ponder this one…

So let’s have at it, shall we? Aside from using toxic cosmetics, which is obviously on out don’t list, we’re going to think about ours and try to include them in comments. Do you know what’s on your to-don’t list?

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22 Responses to “What’s On Your To-Don’t List?”
  1. Geneva says:

    Don’t hang around with people who don’t serve your ultimate happiness and wellbeing!!

  2. Steffie says:

    Don’t eat sugar substitutes.
    Don’t sleep in make up.
    Don’t use soap.
    Don’t forget to work out.
    Don’t forget the vitamins.
    Don’t pick those chains back up.
    Don’t forget what it was like wearing them.
    Don’t forget to enjoy every second.
    Don’t regret. Anything.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Don’t lie (especially to my kid)
    Don’t be lazy
    Don’t put up with anybody’s crap (especially my own)
    Don’t regret, just learn lessons

  4. Alexandra says:

    Don’t regret is a great one! I might steal that Rebecca :)

  5. comagirl says:

    Don’t be a slave to technology; disconnect.
    Don’t take the bait.
    Don’t befriend mean people.
    Don’t live in the past or the future.
    Don’t beat yourself up.
    Don’t be so serious.
    Don’t forget your hat. [Fairskinned people will understand this one]

  6. Krystal says:

    Don’t drink soda, coffee or juice with added sugar.
    Don’t smoke cigarettes or drink more than 2 drinks in a night.
    Don’t buy meat that isn’t from sustainable, responsible farmers.
    Don’t stay mad out of pride.
    Don’t fall asleep with makeup on.

  7. Carley says:

    Don’t use toxic ingredients
    Don’t eat animals
    Don’t forget to work out
    Don’t forget to drink a lot of water
    Don’t forget to do things that scare you
    Don’t worry, just fuuugettttt about it
    Don’t speak negatively about others
    Don’t forget to look at the big picture
    Don’t forget to dream

  8. Ariel says:

    Don’t be afraid to say no.
    Don’t let day-to-day annoyances make you unhappy.
    Don’t let work overshadow family.
    Don’t forget to go outside and get some fresh air.
    Don’t buy food that has artificial flavors…who knows what chemicals are in them.
    Don’t be rude.
    I also like don’t regret….I sometimes wonder how things would have worked out differently had I done different things but it’s all part of the journey

  9. Katherine says:

    Don’t regret anything.
    Don’t drink anything with caffeine after 5 pm.
    Don’t go to bed angry.
    Don’t eat meat.

  10. Contessa says:

    Don’t forget to pray and be thankful for everyday blessings.
    Don’t eat carbs, sugar, and fatty foods.
    Don’t forget to love yourself.
    Don’t go to bed dirty.
    Don’t forget to work out.
    Don’t just do earobics. Strength train instead!
    Don’t forget to eat your protein and veggies.
    Don’t eat junk throughout the day.

  11. philosophotarian says:

    don’t avoid writing just because it’s hard/self-revealing
    don’t cheap out on breathing: deep and slow is better than shallow and quick
    don’t buy anything just because it is cheap, on sale, or almost just right
    don’t buy dessert at the grocery store
    don’t shop because something is wrong. write!

  12. Siobhan says:

    These are all SO good! Here are my favorites from yours (and then I’ll add some originals):

    don’t befriend mean people. @comagirl
    don’t cheap out on breathing: deep and slow is better than shallow and quick. @philosophotarian
    don’t avoid writing just because it’s hard/self-revealing. @philosophotarian
    don’t forget to love yourself. @contessa
    don’t worry, just fuuugettttt about it @carley (and others, but carleys was hilarious)

  13. Rebecca says:

    don’t eat food that pretends to be other food

    (as in plant-based fake “meat” – enjoy the plants for what they really are!)

  14. Amy says:

    I remember when my mom looked to my dad years ago and said, “don’t forget to ….”
    Our friend sitting next to us interrupted and said, “No. Please remember to…”
    I have never forgotten that.
    The power of words and how they feel when the vibrate in your ear.
    I always try to say and write my sentences in the positive form,
    for example, when racing, I think “stay strong,” I would never say “don’t stop”
    or saying “love” instead of “don’t hate”, “smile” instead of “don’t frown”
    It’s sort of the same thing… and yet, so different.
    I never would make a list that has “don’t” written all over it.

  15. Amy says:


    List A: remember, strong, love, smile

    List B: forget, stop, hate, frown

    What do you think? I can feel the difference.

  16. lol says:

    lol “Don’t eat meat.”

    You have canine teeth for a reason, retards.

  17. Rebecca says:

    lol, what a lovely sentiment. We are just putting our personal lists out there (cuz we were asked), not telling anyone else what to do. Since you have those canines, \bite me.\ (couldn’t resist)

    Humans are certainly evolutionarily designed to be omnivores, but that doesn’t mean meat is a healthy choice for every individual. And the factory farming aspect isn’t good for the health of those eating it or the earth. I have no moral issue with people eating sustainably raised animals, but I don’t eat meat for health reasons.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    @Rebecca… :)

    I do like Amy’s philosophy, but I am going to play along all the same:

    1. Don’t lose perspective.
    2. Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude.
    3. Don’t believe that you’re the center of the universe.

  19. Keep it positive says:

    I’ve read somewhere that keeping a positive outlook would help accomplish more. Phrasing things in a negative form would makes us want to do just the opposite.
    Example: “don’t push this button!”
    See what I mean? Anyone will want to push the button that’s not supposed to be pushed.
    I’m not so sure about this “To Don’t List”. Maybe it works for some people.

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