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One of my jobs as a speaker/trainer is to help people be more productive. What I have found is that the answers to many of our problems can be found in the obvious, but other solutions can be found by switching our focus.

This couldn’t be more true than it is when considering our level of productivity. There are apps solely dedicated to helping you create better to-do lists, with levels of priority and so on. What I believe most people need to create is not a to-do list, but a “not to-do” list.

This is a list of things that you are not going to do from now on. This list includes items that are continually eating up your time and, as a result, killing your level of productivity.

Don’t send out emails first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed. Sending out emails first thing in the morning is a gateway that will lead you to continually disrupt your schedule, and sending out emails right before you go to bed will ultimately cause your mind to run and affect your ability to sleep.

Don’t ever agree to meetings that don’t have a set agenda and clear ending time. Believe it or not, people love the sound of their own voices and have an uncanny ability to turn 10 minute meetings into 45 minute marathons. Just because someone else is not managing their time correctly doesn’t mean that it has to affect your schedule. Be specific and require details before you agree to any meeting.

Stop greeting people with open-ended questions. In an effort to be friendly, many of us greet people with an opening phrase like, “Hey! What’s going on?” or “How’s it going?” This question is going to lead to a 10 minute discussion of what is going on in their life or a discussion of what the weather is like. Learn to greet people in a friendly manner and then say, “Hey, I have to get on a call in 5 minutes, but what’s going on?” This forces people to get to the point. I am all for great conversation, but learn to value your work hours.

Stop being a slave to email. Too many of us spend our day sitting in front of our computer waiting for the next email, so we can get our marching orders, or find ourselves hitting the refresh button on our phone all throughout the day so that we can feel good about the fact that someone is sending us something. Stop that! Pick times throughout the day and batch your emails. Start small and check every hour at first, but make it your goal to get to the point where you only check 3 to 4 times a day. You are much more productive when you answer your emails in batches than when you spend 10 minutes on each one while you wait for another one to come in.

Don’t leave your social media page open all day in anticipation of the next notification. Social media is an awesome tool and I love it and am very active on it. But just like email, we have to batch our responses to people or we will find that our time has been hijacked by our desire to always be the quickest to respond. When it comes to social media, set times throughout the day to engage with others.

There are many other items that I could add to this list, but I’ll save that for another article. Feel free to write your favorite “not to-do’s” on my Facebook wall or tweet them to me. I would love to see them.

The key to your production level many times doesn’t always lie in what you do – but rather what you make the decision to stop doing.

Jared James is the CEO and Founder of Jared James Enterprises, an internationally sought-after speaker and trainer. James built one of the fastest-growing real estate teams in the country, was inducted into the International Hall of Fame for one of the world’s largest real estate companies and wrote a best-selling book—all before the age of 28. As an acclaimed speaker, James keynotes events for major real estate organizations and conducts regular webinars and training for nationally known organizations like NAR, CRS, Yahoo Real Estate, Trulia and Zillow Academy and blogs regularly for RISMedia.

To stay in touch with Jared James, visit and or visit his website at