One of the most helpful pieces of productivity advice I’ve ever received was the suggestion to create a To Don’t list. This would be a list of all of the tasks and daily rituals that I should stop doing. It’s a simple message that moves one toward a simpler life.
I feel like I live in a world where I can probably handle “just one more thing.” Perhaps it’s an addiction to busyness or a desire to fill every moment with some type of activity. When someone brings me a new idea or an activity that I can get excited about, I tend to want to try and accomplish it. Yet all of this results in a level of busyness that doesn’t always lead to effectiveness or the accomplishment of what’s really important.
The second perspective of evaluation, which I call revoke, has a lot to do with cutting out the ineffective parts of an experience. Now that you’ve walked through this experience, lived with it for awhile, and have a chance to reflect and review it, you need to decide what’s not worth repeating.
This is part of the value of evaluating one’s experiences. Knowing what not to do in the future can help save time, energy, resources, and false starts. It can help you create a smarter strategy (we’ll talk about revise in a future post) for the next time around.
Evaluation is a learning process. It helps us know what to do but also what not to do. There are some experiences that shouldn’t be repeated. Failure is not necessarily making a mistake. But we draw closer to becoming a failure if we continue to repeat the same mistake over and over again.
There is a danger in the revoking process. Too many times we’ll find something that didn’t work and revoke it from our list of effective outcomes or strategies. Then, if we’re ever in a situation where it or something similar comes up again, we’ll move into a “tried-that-before-and-it-didn’t-work” position. At this point, our evaluated experience may be spot on. But it also might be limiting possible options for moving forward.
So it’s important, once again, to not only know what to cut out but to know why you want to not repeat it again. All too often, if something goes wrong, we might be tempted to create a policy or procedure that assures it won’t happen again. But in the process, we have the potential of losing a possibility (that may be a good possibility) in another context.
That’s why the why is important. It offers context and conditions that show the reasons an action or behavior should be stopped.
· What can I stop doing that will make me even more effective?
· What distracted me from maintaining a focused effort toward reaching my goal?
· Who shouldn’t participate next time? Or better yet, what kind of person is going to be an obstacle to success?
The other thing to consider when evaluating what to revoke is in the area of value. An activity or behavior may be something good to do, but not necessarily in this context. In the end, it didn’t help you achieve your end goal, it didn’t bring you any closer to your desired outcome. Once again, it’s noticing that this element of your experience is not helpful in this situation.
One item that I will always put on the revoke portion of an evaluation is worry. It’s never helpful and it keeps me from being and doing my best at every step of the process. Have you ever noticed how someone can stay cool and collected in the face of rising tensions or insurmountable odds? It’s because he or she has been there before and taken the time to revoke worry as an unproductive behavior or activity. That’s the value of evaluated experience.