Some of us “live and breath” by our TO DO lists. We would be lost and would find it hard to accomplish anything without them. I’m sure there are plenty of heads nodding yes… yes… yes! Even the most devoted list maker among us seldom thinks of a STOP DOING LIST.

Why don’t we do it? Well, I think there are a few reasons…

We don’t want to admit that something we are doing is not working or serving us well.

We are too caught up in the momentum of activity to stop and evaluate the effectiveness of what we are doing.

And most importantly… it’s a habit… and we find it too difficult to stop.

Does this all sound familiar? I’m sure it does. Those of us who are over-achievers seldom use the word NO or NEVER… because we see possibilities around every corner. So a STOP DOING LIST will take some effort… believe me I KNOW. (I had to put “create a STOP DOING LIST” on my TO DO list. Sick… I know!)

I read The Innovative Secrets of Steve Jobs, by Carmine Gallo and he talks about how Jobs says NO to 1000’s of things. Why? In order to FOCUS on what is really important, with no distraction. Gallo writes about when Jobs was developing the iPod, and people were trying to convince him to create a mobile phone. By focusing on one at a time they made a smashing success of BOTH. And the iPhone leveraged the success of the iPod. In many cases the iPod was the first Apple product some people had ever used… the iPod opened the door to a huge market  that was eager to see what else Jobs had in store for them. FOCUS is the name of the game.

I talk to my clients a lot about narrowing their focus, here are a few things to consider…

STOP trying to be ALL things to All people: If corporations could use your services… then which ones? Pharmaceuticals, Financial, Manufacturing, Distribution… you get the idea. You can’t be meaningful to them all. Pick one!

STOP trying to meet EVERYONE in the room: If you hate to go to networking events, change your focus. Instead of trying to hand your card to everyone in the room, your goal should be to have a meaningful conversation with two people. And when you’ve accomplished that you can leave.

STOP over scheduling yourself: Allow ample time and BE ON TIME. Nothing speaks, professionalism as clearly as being prompt.

STOP multi-tasking: Be present no matter where you are. Put the BlackBerry down and be present in a meeting with a client, your boss, your staff or your family. They all deserve your undivided attention.

Figure out what you are doing that does not serve you well, so that you can focus on what really matters. What is YOUR equivalent to the iPod and iPhone… what can you focus  on in order to create leverage for your next endeavor?