Sunday, February 3, 2013

What I don't do

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? In a world where we count what we do and hang our hats, pride and livelihood on things we do why would I talk about things I don’t do? Because it matters, I tend to think it matters more than what you do actually do.

Stephanie from Design*Sponge wrote an article about how a freelance designer or an entrepreneur should create an “I DON’T List”

“The idea behind the I DON’T list is simple: List all the tasks and projects that drain your energy. Stop doing these things. I know. This sounds terrifying.”

Actually this is brilliant. If you start to think of all the useless things you do that you think add to your bottom line there are many, tons probably, that don’t. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule or Pareto's law?

So my list of don’t:

·         I don’t tolerate whining or bitching about something unless it’s valid and moves the point forward. This simply brings down morale and honestly I am unable to be a yes-man. My life, your life and everyone else’s life sucks at some point, figure out the best way to fix it and get on with it. Bitching is like a rocking chair-it gets you no-where.
·         I don’t try and waste people’s time. No one likes waiting. If I am out with friends or just hanging out with them, I will not answer my phone or check my email unless someone takes a bathroom break.
·         I don’t leave long voice messages or at all. I will send a text if it’s urgent or send an email if there is no timeline on it. Then the information is there in writing and the other person won’t need to write it again or remember the details, it’s already written out.
·         I don’t watch tv. I do watch movies online and sometimes a few shows, but I haven’t owned a tv in the past 3-4 years. I prefer to surf the internet, read, do and make things.
·         I don’t drive a car. I do have my driver’s license but in starting to down size I bought a motorcycle 3 years ago and when you carry things on your back without air conditioning you don’t drive as much as you would in an car with air conditioning and a trunk.
·         I don’t buy new clothes or anything if I can help it other than food. I buy used, borrow from friends, or find it on ebay and when I can’t find it that way I ask if I need it and only then if I still do break down and buy it new.
·         I don’t buy books, music, or movies. I use the library religiously and have since I was old enough to  have a library card. The Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis happens to ROCK and the Twin Cities has one of the best library systems!
·         I don’t throw paper or other recyclables away. I recycle them and verbally harass others that don’t or teach them how.
·         I don’t take many things at face value. I am naturally a curious person so I ask a lot of questions and research things until I have a good understanding of the subject matter rather that just taking information that is thrown at me through various media channels.
·         I don’t watch the news or read news papers on a regular basis. I do listen to the radio (MPR and BBC) as much as possible and look up various subjects IN newspapers when I think of it, but I think too much doom and gloom keeps you in a bad headspace and wonder what would happen if we had more uplifting news occasionally.
·         I don’t take complements well. This is strange for me to write down as it doesn’t seem to fit but it’s something I need to work on and have learned to say ‘thank you’ instead of ignoring it like it was never said.

Strangely I wrote this post before I moved to Senegal, West Africa to work for Peace Corps as a Sustainable Agricultural Extenstion Agent, but all of it still holds true. Most of the time here, I bring a book, some food and water to help with needing to wait for people or transportation and hangry (angry because your hungry) volunteers I might not be able to tolerate. Strangely the same as in the states.

So what don’t you do? Do you have a reason for not doing it?

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Stephanie. Biz Ladies: Making an “I DON’T” List. Design*Sponge. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2012.


  1. Ooh, many of these hold true for me as well. Too depressing watching/reading the news (even though I want to be a informed, educated person), shocked at the number of people I see not recycling, and the compliments? I totally struggle with this one as well. I always try and brush them off and am working on simply saying 'thank you'. I could probably add many to this list, but I will say that most of what would be on my list is because of my kid. I don't worry about having a clean house, connecting with others as much, ... anything that gets in the way of my Riley and Jesse time just isn't worth it much anymore.

  2. Great blog. I'm going to make my own "don't" list. Many of your "don'ts" can fit into my life as well. Less shopping, more recycling. You've got me thinking. Thanks and God Bless You and your work.