Want a History-Making 2011? Make Your UnList

Last Updated Mar 11, 2011 1:51 PM EST

If you follow what's in this post, you'll accomplish something history making in 2011, and likely tick off some people in the process.

We all know New Year's Resolutions don't work. They create new problems and start a cycle that brings us back to where we started. What to do instead? Go the land of Not, meaning resolve to not do something anymore. "Not" is about behaviors, time sucks, things that add no value but that have you as their servants. The more things you cut out, the more time you'll have for what matters. You will do something history making in 2011 by making a space for it. Here are three kinds of activities you should cut at work.

1. Value sucks: These are activities that reduce productivity and untie the bonds of great cultures. Gossip, reporting on something that no one cares about, and having meetings to plan future meetings. Banish value sucks to the Land of Not. Stop doing them. Just stop. Bob Newhart will give you key advice here if you need it.
2. Value neutrals: These take time and add no value, but aren't true value sucks. Answering 50% of your email falls in this category, as does your attendance in 50% of your meetings. You might feel better about reducing the number of unread emails and filling up your calendar, but does anyone else care? Here's an experiment that just might revolutionize your 2011: banish value neutrals, for two weeks, to the Land of Not. Just stop doing them. Worst case: you offend someone. Apologize, and start doing some of them again.

3. Value adds: These include the things you get paid for (closing deals, hitting metrics, managing staff). They also include activities that build strong cultures, like brainstorming new ways to operate, building or renewing relationships with coworkers, and, as we point out in Tribal Leadership, creating strong bonds between other coworkers. You want to keep doing these. But use your extra time to ask and answer a key question: what could you do in 2011 that is unplanned and unpredictable, that could make this your most rewarding year ever? Here's a hint: it won't be more value adds. It will be something so much more valuable that it's not even in the same category.

The way to find the seeds of greatness in 2011 is to move as much as you can to the Land of Not.

So here's the question: what activities are you willing to stop doing, to make time for what really matters?

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Photo courtesy katerha, CC 2.0.

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    Dave Logan is a USC faculty member, management consultant, and the best-selling author of four books including Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance. He is also Senior Partner of CultureSync, a management consulting firm, which he co-founded in 1997.