6 Things to Put on Your To-Not-Do List


By Pat Brans, Forbes.com Contributor

What really sets high achievers apart is not that they do a lot, but that they don’t do a lot. The most successful people filter out thousands of opportunities every day, and focus on a very few important tasks.

Some keep a physical list of things not to do; but for most, the filtering process has become automatic. Here are the six things every high achiever has on his or her to-not-do list, whether the list is written down or ingrained in habit:

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DON’T DO #1: Spend time thinking about anything beyond your control.
If you can’t do anything about it, drop it. Don’t spend time agonizing over mistakes made in the past, or missed opportunities. Likewise, don’t spend time worrying about events in the future that you can’t do anything to influence.

DON’T DO #2: Waste a second trying to change somebody else.
Ignore any illusions you may have that you can change another person. The best a trained psychoanalyst can do is help the other person change – and even then, the process takes years. Besides, people sense you’re trying to change them, and resent it.

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DON’T DO #3: Do anything you can delegate to somebody else.
If the task can be handed off to somebody more skilled than you, and you can count on that person to do it, let the other person do it. Keep for yourself the most critical activities, and those you don’t think somebody else can do.

DON’T DO #4: Focus on fixing one-time occurrences.
Don’t knock yourself out trying to fix problems resulting from isolated events. Focus instead on building lasting processes. If you get the processes right, the events that make up each process will fall into place.

DON’T DO #5: Spend time with people you don’t trust or people you can’t count on.
Trust is the basis of all good relationships. If you ask somebody for help with something, but can’t be sure if they’ll follow through, you’re probably wasting your time.

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DON’T DO #6: Put effort into anything that will clearly have little or no impact.
Be prepared to drop activities that no longer promise significant results. Spend your time only on projects of consequence.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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