Why You Need to Develop a “NOT TO DO LIST”: Part 2 of our Series

21st Century To Do List Management Series: Part 2


We all think about making a To Do List. It is obvious. And, I’ll go into making a Pro one shortly. But the other concept I want you to hold in your mind is the idea of a “Not To Do List.” So you can understand, I’ll tell you the story of the Glass Vs. Rubber Balls.

Rubber Vs. Glass Balls

The easiest way to explain this is with the story of the Rubber vs. Glass Balls. I heard this simple story years ago and it has always stuck with me. It goes like this:

In life, there are rubber balls and glass balls and you are always juggling. Your family is glass, so you can’t drop them. Many of your work projects are rubber balls — the assignment will still be there tomorrow and you need to plan in advance. And sometimes a work project becomes a glass ball, and you have to let your family know you need to put them down for a day or three. Because they know they are ‘glass’ to you, they are more likely to understand and respect that you have a glass project this week.

KEY: Simply substitute the concept of the Glass ball with what is important to you in your life, especially your personal one. Then, learn to look at all of your Tasks in your Business Life as rubber balls.

Remember: Hardly any balls are ever TRULY glass, especially in your Business Life, You’ll really want to quickly learn to assess all the tasks (balls) in your business and determine which ones are truly glass. From that point on, your focus must be toward the Glass balls. Remember this.

I’ll extend the above story by adding this: Nearly all the rubber balls not only can be dropped because they can bounce but KICKED TO THE SIDE and never picked up again. Learn to kick rubber balls away from you.

Therefore, Rubber Balls are TOP CANDIDATES for your “Not to Do List.” You simply don’t need to address them. You’ve either created tasks to fill your day or these are tasks that simply bring ZERO value.

You can KICK rubber balls away by any of the following methods:

  • Learn to Say “No” to needless tasks
  • Learn to Say “No” to needless meetings
  • Learn to Delegate rubber balls so you can focus more of your time on the glass ones (this is the Top reason to kick rubber balls away. Or, in reality, kick them to someone else who can perform the task for you.)
  • Learn to have a Structured Work Day
  • Learn as many other Tools and Tactics that improve not just your efficiency but your effectiveness
  • Learn to Ask yourself: “Am I truly being productive or just busy?”
  • Learn to Ask yourself: “If this Task doesn’t get done, what would REALLY happen?”
  • Learn to be honest with yourself and make sure you’re NOT procrastinating on the Glass Balls to mess around with Rubber ones. Don’t “create” more Rubber Balls instead of dealing with Glass ones. Kick the Rubber Balls to the curb and focus ONLY on the Glass ones.
  • Spend 1 week as a TEST. That week, ONLY work on Glass Balls. Let the Rubber ones Bounce or Kick them away. After the week, you’ll find that you were actually MORE efficient and effective. Your Boss will notice too!!

If you think of the ratio of Glass to Rubber Balls as the nearly universal Law commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, you’ll always have the correct balance of what is truly important. And, to be honest, I believe that rule really is closer to 90/10 or even 95/5.

Your goal should be to get to 95/5 Rubber to Glass Balls!!

We’ll go into more 21st Century To Do List Management skills in the next part of our Series.


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