You live in a world of “to do” lists – here’s a list they never tell you to write

Phew! After last night’s chaos at London’s Euston Station (see my Facebook profile), this morning’s blog is a little later than usual (aided and abetted by an update to my Mac OS operating system that consumed the first 30 minutes of online time this morning – first world problems).

So, for those of you who sit by your devices at 06:00 (BST) weekday mornings, waiting to read what I’m seeing and thinking, my apologies.

This lunchtime I’ll be welcoming guests on my Couple’s Retreat here in Hale, Cheshire and for the next 48 hours I will be immersed in business and personal coaching for a small troupe/gaggle/herd (what’s the collective term for a group of married business owners – a worry?) of man and wife business-owner teams.

I’m really looking forward to the experience of meeting old friends and new and getting stuck in to their business and personal lives. It’s the first time I’ve facilitated this event for a few years.

There’s no doubt at all that the subject of time management will be close to the top of the agenda when I ask each delegate what outcomes they are looking for from this weekend.

I, of course, will begin by admitting to the same problems of overwork and never ending lists – and then offer the insight that there is no such thing as time management – there is only priority management.

If you prioritise business over family, turnover over health, TV over reading, red wine over deep sleep (guilty), then that’s a decision you are making for yourself – nobody is making you do it.

Please don’t kid either me or yourself by rolling out that “I have to do this to:

  • keep the kids in private education
  • pay the loans
  • provide jobs for all those people
  • stay on top of the car payments
  • keep up with the Jones’s”

and so on.

I used reasons like that for most of the 90’s and beyond, before the wake up call that the price I was paying was too high.

However, on time management and life in general.

Since the late 70’s, I’ve been living in a world of “to do” lists – paper, binder and electronic.

A trip around the Apple store will reveal more task management applications than you can possibly get through in a lifetime (although I am trying).

There’s an application that Apple don’t sell – that you cannot buy from a stationers:

“The Not To Do List”

So here’s my challenge for you today and over this weekend, whilst I’m coaching my heart out at CADE.

Make a list of the things that you are NOT going to do anymore.


  • I’m NOT going to work 5 days a week clinical and leave myself no time to work ON my business
  • I’m NOT going to tolerate the behaviour of that well-poisoning staff member
  • I’m NOT going to tolerate the behaviour of that wealthy but rude patient
  • I’m NOT going to watch rubbish TV
  • I’m NOT going to tolerate my current levels of fitness, nutrition and sleep
  • I’m NOT going to look after everybody else and not myself

Try it – go on – be incredibly selfish for once; make your own list and see how it feels to write it down.

Have a great Friday + weekend and think of me, in the conference room of Hale Dental Clinic, creatively destroying the business and personal systems of my guests, so that they can build better lives for themselves and those around them.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

One thought on “You live in a world of “to do” lists – here’s a list they never tell you to write”

  1. Such a great idea, Chris.

    Wednesdays are my ‘no to-do list’ days.

    I simply wake up and do what I FEEL.

    It’s weird to start off with, ‘feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’ what I want to do.

    Over the past 4 years of doing this I have walked, swum, drunk, jogged, baked, slobbed, eaten, visited, biked and shopped… It’s great to wake up when I’m ready, eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired… Wednesdays are a little oasis in the middle of the week for ME.

    For the past 3 years I have also taken August off work, primarily to do exactly the same thing but this time for a whole month… a month of feeling and not thinking!

    I must say, living Wednesdays like this has changed my life.

    take care, mate.

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