What’s On Your Stop Doing List for 2011 (Contest)

This entry was posted by Monday, 13 December, 2010
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Cool Faded Stop Sign by doortoriver

Are you like me – do you have a to-do list that never seems to get any shorter?  This time of year it seems like the list is never ending.  My blackberry is loaded up with task reminders, appointments, and  meeting after meeting.  My desk is wallpapered with post-it note lists of things to do, phone calls to return and I have a huge whiteboard detailing the many projects I need to tackle.  On top of all of that, now there is yearend wrap-up and 2011 planning.  So when I heard the following statement from Jim Colllins’ Good to Great it was a game changer for me:

 ”STOP doing lists are more important than to-do lists”!

According to Collins, one of the things that all great leaders do is create “pockets of quietude” to disconnect from their hectic schedule and focus on thinking.  Imagine that - taking planned time to sit back and think about your next big idea.  But how in the world can we fit that quiet time into our busy lives?  We can take a good look at our to-do lists and pick things that we are going to commit to stop doing. 

A few weeks ago my department watched a video of Jim Collins’ presentation at The 1 Credit Union Conference.   I had the pleasure of watching him speak live back in July, but getting to watch it with my team was even more impactful.  A group of us were so fired up afterwards that we’ve decided to start a discussion group to take the concepts and turn them into actionable items that will help take our team from good to great. 

Our first group assignment was to take one of the concepts and apply it to our personal roles here at CUNA.  We eventually plan on tackling some bigger group challenges, but we needed to start somewhere, so we’re starting with our own little realm of control.  I decided to try out the stop doing concept.   Somewhere along the line it seems like all of my tasks started to feel urgent, and I wanted to figure out what tasks truly were important.  For this first week’s exercise I found one thing that was getting in my way to really focus on big ideas was my e-mail notification.  Every time it would pop up I’d get distracted from the projects that were most important. 

So the first action on my stop doing list: I am going to stop allowing every single e-mail to pull my attention away from the bigger tasks at hand.  I’ve turned off the e-mail notification alert on both my blackberry and computer and have set up scheduled time to address my e-mail inbox.  It’s a really small first application of the stop doing concept, but for me it’s been a huge help.  In just one week I’m already feeling much more focused and am having a lot of  fun tackling the bigger projects on my to do list.

I urge you to do the same, sit back and determine activities to work on that are really contributing to your own personal success and the success of the goals of your credit union.  It’s a really eye opening exercise.  Those tasks that are blocking you from those key activities – add them to your stop doing list!

So, what’s one thing you can stop doing in 2011 (or now if you’re so inclined)?  It can be small or huge – you’ve just got to start with something.  

Answer that question in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on December 20th to give away a signed copy of Collins’ most recent book – How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In!

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Monday, December 20th at 11:59PM (CT). No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  Multiple comments are allowed as long as you have a valid idea in each comment. (No duplicate comments) The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  Void where prohibited.


11 Responses to “What’s On Your Stop Doing List for 2011 (Contest)”

  1. #1 on my stop doing list for 2011? To stop putting so much attention on planning & strategizing and shift more of those resources (time, effort, creativity) into execution – execution of those difficult tasks that matter but are often easier left untouched. “More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin.”

  2. I, too, am going to work on my focus in 2011. I have some really big things I want to accomplish in 2011 and checking e-mail and Twitter every three seconds are a couple of things that I definitely need to tone down!

  3. @Bill – that’s a great quote! You’ve summed up the main reason our team started this discussion group. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about great ideas but it’s time for some implementation and execution. Best of luck to you!

    @Tim – I’ve wondered before how you manage to stay so connected on top of the many other things you are working on (my guess was totally multiple Tim McAlpine clones). Looking forward to seeing the amazing things you accomplish in 2011 after you “tone down” a little :-)

    I apologize for the delay in getting comments posted today, we’ve just had some e-mail and tech transitions that apparently are causing a bit of a delay in our notifications. We’re looking in to the problem.

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. Thanks for the great contest, Meghann!

    In 2011, I’m going to stop taking work home so I can make time to be with my wife and our first child coming early next year. I also have personal goals that I’ll be able to prioritize by refusing to give constant attention to work.

  5. You’re welcome Scott and thanks for reading CUNAverse. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your first child, how exciting!

  6. Napoleon Hill said that prioritizing your tasks is essential. That is, do the things that will have the greatest impact on your life & career FIRST. Let the rest wait until later.

    So, in 2011, I guess I am going to try to stop worrying about trivial matters. Instead, I’ll concentrate on doing things that will have a greater impact.

  7. @Sean – that was put so well and is a big reason for starting a “stop doing” list. Collins states to spend your time in things that fall within your “Hedgehog Concept” – basically focusing on things that you are 1. the Best at, 2. Passionate About and 3. Drive Your Economic Engine. So many of the trivial matters just don’t stand up to that, so why do we devote so much time to them? Great to see you on CUNAverse.

  8. Meghann – I’d agree with you on the email notification. I answer almost every email I get as they come in and although I know others appreciate my fast response, it’s extraordinarily distracting sometimes. I need to stop doing that…at least for a few hours a day! I vow to simply close Outlook for at least an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to really dive into tasks I need to focus on.

    Great post as always!

  9. Thanks Christopher! I hope shutting your e-mail down for a few hours each week helps you really dive in to your more important tasks. I’ve now gone a few weeks with the e-mail notification turned off and think I’m now in to a new norm for my work flow that has really freed up time to devote to creativity, strategic thinking and overall the big things that really matter. Always great to see you on CUNAverse!

  10. I applaud this effort and the comments from the group. Especially given the “connected” need today personally and professionally. Even “old guys” like me need time to ponder/think without the edistraction. The challenge will always be building a discpline to maintain quality “thinking” time. Good message Meghann.

  11. Thanks for your comment Terry. I came across another blog post recently that has some simple ways to help building down time in to your schedule: http://www.thenextgreatgeneration.com/2010/12/14/resting-will-make-you-better-at-your-job/comment-page-1/#comment-5438

    These seemed like good ways to me to start getting to the point of regular quality “thinking” time.

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