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The Power of a 'Not-To-Do' List

Has your working day become one long battle to wade through a to-do list? An article on BBC.com noted the multiple distractions of the modern world—digital overload, open offices and constant interruptions, to name a few—that can make it near impossible to achieve your goals, or even get anything done at all.

The article argued that we should start thinking more about what we shouldn't be doing. That's one of the strategies employed by Canadian businessman Andrew Wilkinson, who has come up with a list of "anti-goals." Wilkinson noticed his day was filled with things he didn't want to do. He was feeling stretched, doing business with people he didn't like, with a schedule dictated by others, he recently wrote in his blog.

So he adopted a strategy from an investment expert called "inversion," which means looking at problems in reverse, focusing on minimizing the negatives instead of maximizing the positives. To put it in practice, Wilkinson came up with his worst possible workday: one filled with long meetings at the office, a packed schedule dealing with people he didn't like or trust. Then he came up with his list of "anti-goals," which includes no morning meetings, no more than two hours of scheduled time per day, and no dealings with people he doesn't like.

These "anti-goals" have made his life "immeasurably better" he said. Focusing on the negative helps us reflect on and cut out activities that don't align with our broader goals. It's about prioritizing that which is important.

Possible Preaching Angles: 1) Leaders; Pastors - We should avoid spending the prime time of the day checking email, handling administrative details, and updating social media. Put these items on your 'not-to-do' right now list. 2) Believers; Christians - The Internet, television, and video gaming do provide needed relaxation but they should be on our 'not-to-do' list until we give priority to God's Word and prayer each day.

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