Your Won’t Do List

When you know what you want your life to look like, it establishes limits around your actions. It informs your decisions, simplifying your life. You know what you want, so that makes the little decisions easier. But just as important as your to-do list based on those decisions, is your “won’t do” list.

That’s because a clear vision for your life is as much about what you are NOT going to do as it is about what you ARE going to do.

It sounds good in theory, but what about in real life? Here’s a thought. Instead of just writing to-do lists, try writing a list of the things that you are NOT going to do. For example:

–I will not check email until 11:00am.

–I will not answer Facebook messages until after lunch.

–I will not watch a movie during the week so I can use that time to read a book that helps me grow personally.

–I will not sleep with the phone next to the bed.

This “won’t do” list will look different for everyone, of course. Each of us has our own actions that trip us up and suck away our time and emotional energy. Getting upset about someone’s drama on Facebook isn’t a productive use of our life. Scrolling through the Amazon app won’t solve our challenges or make us a better person. On the other hand, watching an episode of Fixer Upper to unwind might be a wise choice for your season of life. Watching an entire season in one sitting, not so much.

Some of these “won’t do’s” may be as serious as disentangling yourself from obligations. You might realize that saying “yes” to a one-hour commitment each week didn’t take into consideration getting ready, finding kids’ shoes, feeding the family supper early, stopping for gas, and mentally stressing over all of these details. An innocent hour commitment grew into an all-afternoon-and-evening ordeal, and now you find yourself dreading it. How about adding it to your “won’t do” list instead?

Build in protective measures and limits around your “won’t do’s.” Put up a fence by attaching a time limit or specific boundary. Tell someone so they will hold you accountable. Kids are really good at this, believe me.

The good thing about a “won’t do” list is that it frees you up for the “will do’s.” Clarity on what you will NOT do helps you realize what you really WANT to do.

Life is too short to spend it doing things that don’t get you where you want to go.

For instance, if it’s important to you to read aloud to your kids, but you find yourself rarely doing that, you’ll feel the disconnect and it will discourage you. You’ll feel off track and out of sorts, but might not be able to put your finger on why.

Spend some time thinking about what you DO want in your life. Then make a “won’t do” list to make room for the good stuff.

When you live intentionally and with purpose, it will make a difference in your energy and clear thinking. Get out a pen and paper, and start your “won’t do” list today.


  1. Carrie S. says:

    Thank you Charlotte! Did I ever need to hear that today!! I’m going to make that don’t do list!!

    1. Charlotte says:

      That’s awesome! Work that list!

  2. Heather P says:

    Charlotte, thanks so much! glad to have the blessing of your wisdom in my mail box! I love the idea of won’t do list!!

    1. Charlotte says:

      Aww thank you! Glad you welcome me into your email box! 🙂

  3. Thank you Charlotte! This is a message that I really needed to “hear” this morning. I have a long history of doing things that I don’t
    want to do but feel obligated to do. Being stuck on this track has caused me to be sidetracked in all areas of my life: mission, career and health. This is great encouragement and I will be printing out the “list” graphic as a reminder that there are things to do that, while they might be good for someone, they ultimately are not what I should be doing.

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