Journal prompt: The ‘stop doing’ list

I’ve started reading The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam, and I love it. I’m a very visual person and the thought of planning a business the ‘normal’ way bores me to tears. But this book is something else!

Anyway, I got this awesome idea from it: the ‘stop doing’ list.

We are so busy running around, dashing from one thing to the next, and running a mental checklist of all the things we have to do. I feel like I have a never-ending to-do list, and just when I think I’ve checked off something I find another five things to add to it.

The focus most days seems to be on adding to the list, rather than ticking things off.

As a highly sensitive person, it doesn’t take much for me to feel overwhelmed. On my busiest days, I sometimes find the simplest things to be too much.

While I find writing a to-do list to be helpful as it allows me to organise my thoughts, I really like the idea of a stop doing list. Rather than writing another list of things I have to do, things I’m cramming into an already full schedule, why not look for the things I can stop doing, the things that don’t really add any value to my life?


>>> Prompt:

Take a fresh page in your journal. You can complete this prompt in whatever way feels best for you: a list, a mindmap, visually, or just free writing whatever comes to mind. If you like to use a filofax or a planner, it might be nice to take one of your to-do pages and change the heading to ‘stop doing’!

Now, consider all the things that you do on a regular basis that don’t contribute anything to your life, or contribute very little. What can you take away so that you can allow more space for the good things to grow?

Here are a few of the things from my stop doing list – things that don’t add any value to my life:

  • Browsing Facebook and Instagram aimlessly
  • Online shopping for craft supplies (mostly – this is a tough one!)
  • Complaining about feeling tired
  • Watching TV shows/films I don’t absolutely love
  • Spending time with people who don’t support my dreams or don’t ‘get’ me
  • Going to bed late

Take one thing from your list and make a real effort to remove it from your life for the next week. See if it makes a difference! For the next seven days I really want to work on complaining about feeling tired – I really want to spend less of my energy thinking about that, and more energy focused on the good feelings.

I think it is essential that we take a good look at our lives from time to time to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s easy to fall into bad habits without realising.

If there are things you can take out of your life so there is more room for the good stuff – then do it!

Having more time and energy free to dream, journal, be creative, be positive and just move at a slower pace will contribute to a greater quality of life than keeping up with the Kardashians or catching up with friends you don’t really love to be with.

It’s your life and your time, so you get to choose how you spend it. I know we all have obligations (work, kids, partners, looking after family members, etc) but often we are spending our free time in ways that don’t actually add value to our lives. You have control over how you spend this time!

Stop doing the things that don’t add to your life.


5 thoughts on “Journal prompt: The ‘stop doing’ list”

  1. Aimless browsing and TV are on my stop doing list, too! This is a great twist on the conventional to-do list. I love the idea of taking just one thing from the list and focusing on that for a week. It sounds like a fantastic way to move in the right direction without being overwhelmed with drastic change. Wishing you great success with your stop doing list!


    1. Hi Christie, I totally agree – it’s so easy to waste time on TV. I think focusing on little things can be helpful rather than massive changes, as you say. Good luck with your list too! 🙂


  2. Jen,
    When you first posted this on our #JournalChat Live Facebook Group, I was intrigued with the idea of recording what NOT to do instead of the typical To do that we all have come into the habit of creating. I think the idea of stopping something that doesn’t add to us or consumes our time unnecessarily is a great way to promote and implement positive change. It also forces us think about what we are doing and what isn’t working. In other words, this journaling exercise can help give us a fresh perspective in many life dimensions! Great idea.

    I have chosen your post, Journal Prompt: The ‘stop doing’ list, as Dawn’s #JournalChat Favorite on 9/16/14; I will share a link on my website, in Refresh Journal and on the social networks, including reposting on our Facebook Group!

    Thanks for such awesome journaling exercises, Jen. I love your vibe.
    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring


    1. Hi Dawn, thanks so much! I found it really useful to highlight what wasn’t serving me and what could be removed. I’m glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for sharing it! 🙂


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