Four Reasons to Have a “Stop Doing” List

We don’t drift toward greater efficiency and effectiveness. An organization’s natural drift is toward complexity and a fruitless fury of activity. It takes discipline and focus to continually move to greater effectiveness. For this reason, Jim Collins has encouraged leaders to develop a “stop doing” list.

A “stop doing” list forces you to evaluate what you and your team are doing and to eliminate that which is not the most fruitful. Just as waste accumulates in a spare room in a home, waste has a tendency to accumulate in any organization. Unnecessary activities and unfruitful actions threaten effectiveness. So here are four reasons to have a “stop doing” list:

  1. Time is squandered.

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:15-16a, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time.” Paul could have used the word chronos for time—the word we get “chronological” from, a word that speaks of time in general terms. But Paul used the word kairos, which speaks of time in terms of the short amount of predetermined time that we have to steward while living. It is foolish to squander time focusing on things that matter little. A “stop doing” list can help you evaluate where time is being squandered.

  1. Energy is divided.

You and your team only have so much energy. When useless or fruitless activities are allowed to remain perpetually, they sap energy from you and your team. A “stop doing” list helps you liberate additional energy and focus for that which is most important.

  1. Resources are poorly invested.

German philosopher Goethe wisely stated, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Fruitless activities are not a net zero to you and your team. They must not be viewed as a mere neutral. They are a drain because they rob resources from what you should be investing in.

  1. Better opportunities are missed.

When we continue to do things that don’t matter, better opportunities are missed because we are feverishly executing the unimportant.

Do you need to stop doing something today?