Transitions With Jean Blog

To-Don’t List

Aug 10, 2023

Every day, I make a to-do list. Honestly, it is because I just can’t remember all the things I need to do.

Do you make to-do lists? It wouldn’t surprise me if your answer is yes, because when I meet with my customers, and we talk about planning for their transition, inevitably, they grab a scrap piece of paper and start making notes.

At the end of each day, I make a list of the things to do the next day, then I prioritize things I really must do, followed by the things that to do when I find spare time. Guess what, I never have spare time. I am a busy person. The things toward the bottom of my list were on the bottom of that list last year, too.

Recently I listened to Clint Pulver, an Emmy Award-winning motivational speaker, an author, musician, and professional drummer. He really is a rockstar! And he really did motivate and inspire me.

The biggest lesson from his presentation was about that to-do list. He turned the tables on us and suggested we start a to-don’t list. That was inspiring.

Pulver talked about how “busy” we all are. Do you find that you can’t do things you really want to do because you are so busy doing everything?

Take a moment to consider what your real goals are for the future. List three. Your goals might be about health, family, happiness, money, travel, time, etc.

Remember, a goal is a final result, whereas an action plan is how to reach your goal.

A goal might be to spend more time with your sister. An action step would be to pick up the phone and schedule dinner with her. A “to-don’t” might be to stop doing something that eats up your time, so you have less for her.

By redirecting your energy, you are more likely to make those three goals happen. They may take all the energy you have. Ask yourself if all the activities on your to- do list get you closer to your three goals, or do they just keep you busy and bog down your brain – making you feel overwhelmed.

Is your house filled with projects that you are going to do? Have you been gonna- do them for years? I am gonna… copy all the slides to my computer, clean out the garage, write a book, make a quilt, reorganize my workshop, go through my closet and try on all the clothes…

Sometimes, don’t you feel that just the weight of their existence weighs you down? And they accumulate. As we age, the list gets longer, and our energy gets shorter.

Is your day filled with doing things that should just stop? Do you need to say no to yourself and to others? What can you eliminate, leaving you more time to enjoy life?

Take control. Free yourself. Make a list of things you want to stop doing and don’t do them anymore. Simple, right?

You will find that having a To-Don’t list might get you closer to your true goals, giving you time and energy to spend on the things that mean the most to you.

Jean Long Manteufel writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging. Send your questions to or call 920-734-3260.