While many individuals and organizations are great at creating “To Do” lists – and continually adding to them – most of us are not very good at taking things off the list. It makes no sense when you think about it for even a moment. Management guru Peter Drucker once said “If you want to start something new,
A “Stop Doing” list can be powerful at the strategic, operational, and personal levels.
At a Strategic level, you should evaluate your programs in terms of the Mission Impact they are making. This is why having metrics at the “mission” level is so important. If you want to add programs, then maybe there are some you need to end. This can be unpopular with some constituencies, but if you truly want to leverage your resources for maximum impact, then it can be the right thing to do.
At the Operational level, many organizations waste a lot of time with legacy standard operating procedures and no one even remembers why they are done. (It reminds of the story of the monkeys & the cold shower which you can read here.) Ask “why are we doing this,” “is this really necessary,” “can we stop doing this?”
At the Personal level, I recommend using a “Delay List” as a step toward a “Stop Doing” list. When I have “to dos” that look like suspicious candidates for the “Stop Doing” list, I just put them on “Delay” for a while. Often they become irrelevant after a while. As Stephen Covey says, we have to discern what is really important – not just what seems urgent at the moment.
Stop Doing the less important activities so you can have more time and resources to focus and make even more of a Mission Impact.