Steven Delarge readily acknowledges that the world is full of time management advice. Most of this advice, he notes, centers on making lists. Some suggest making to-do lists first thing each morning, to set up the day properly. Others recommend making those lists the night before to allow you to rest easily, knowing you can take care of everything the next day.
But Steven Delarge has come up with his own unique approach. The business executive has found that “not do” lists are actually more effective in organizing his life. Anyone who feels overwhelmed by daily tasks can benefit from making these lists. By making a decision, once and for all, to let go of certain duties, you can then free up time to focus on those things that matter most to you, Steven Delarge advises.
It was a lesson Steven Delarge had to learn early in his career. The former president of Silicones & Quartz for Momentive Performance Materials found that he was taking on too many responsibilities. While this isn’t unique to those who have initiative and ambition, Steven Delarge wondered how much more effective he could be in his job if he learned to let go of things that were taking up large chunks of his day.
There are several steps to beginning a “not do” list, says Steven Delarge, including:
- List your daily responsibilities. This may require logging everything you do for a few days. While you may resist this with the excuse that you don’t have time, Steven Delarge discovered that by taking a few days to do this, he saved massive amounts of time in the long-term.
- Underline those items that are essential to your job. Steven Delarge recommends being conservative with this. Just because you don’t underline an item, don’t assume it will be on your not do list. This is just an initial draft.
- Learn to delegate. You can’t do everything. Whether you hand some of your responsibilities over to a subordinate or a colleague, Steven Delarge has found there are others who are capable of taking some of your workload. Handing these items off ensures they get done as well as freeing up your own time. Everyone wins.
- Identify things that can absolutely go. Go down your list and place a star next to the items that can definitely be cut, Steven Delarge advises. Like any ambitious person, you probably have a hard time saying ‘no.’ Cut out unnecessary committees and meetings in favor of working to grow your business or help your chances for a promotion. Put networking first, Steven Delarge advises, and de-emphasize those meetings that aren’t necessary to your career advancement.
Steven Delarge has successfully incorporated a “not do” list into his day and has found it frees up time for doing some of the activities he loves. This includes spending time with his family.