Busy professionals and academics often find solace and guidance in constructing "to-do" lists. However, it might be useful to think about a "not-to-do" list. On the Voir Dire Blog I have occasionally highlighted the blogging of Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week. His book is somewhat controversial and he is as well. Regardles of how one views Ferris, I think that we can glean valuable insights from his blog postings. For instance, the 80/20 Pareto principle that he advocates (not his idea, he just promotes it) can be employed in analyzing the utility of many endeavors, both professionally and personally.
I list below the nine habits he suggests that we stop doing now. To read his rationales for these suggestions, you'll have to read his post. You may or may not agree with any one of these points, but I think that they provide some good food for thought.
1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers
2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time
4. Do not let people ramble
5. Do not check e-mail constantly - "batch" and check at set times only
6. Do not 0ver-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers (the 80/20 principle is discussed in this rationale)
7. Do not work more to fix overwhelm - prioritize
8. Do not carry a cellphone or Crackberry 24/7
9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should