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Every CPA Should Make a "To Don't" List

Posted by Dr. Phil Yaeger on May 23, 2018 11:29:44 AM

Everyone has heard and most of us regularly keep a "To Do" list. Their detailed tasks sit line by line on folded up sheets of paper in pockets and in the notes sections of our phones. We cross them off and in doing so, feel a sense of accomplishment. One thing we don't give ourselves credit for is the very thing which gets in the way of crossing more of those "To Do" items off.

The "To Don't" list is made up of things which impede your productivity, health, and happiness. They can be tangible, such as sleeping in past a certain time, eating junk food, or watching too much Netflix. They can also be intangible things like thinking negatively or not being thankful for the good in life. The "To Don't" list also serves as a watchdog of things that make you burnt out - don't work yourself past exhaustion, don't take on more than you can get done effectively, and don't over promise to the point where you underdeliver.

You know the ins-and-outs of your pitfalls, so everyone should have a different list, but here are some suggestions of a few things not to do.

Don't Work Harder

Work smarter. Sometimes working smart means putting in long hours, getting tired, and grinding through. That's called having grit. What you shouldn't have is a tired stupor as you pour another cup of coffee, become miserable, and constantly complain to people about your job. Our last article talked about how to have a five-hour workday. We know this isn't a realistic possibility for most, but it speaks towards the value of efficiency in the workplace. Don't work 16 hours when you could get the same work done in 12.

For your list
- Don't take too long of breaks
- Don't have notifications on your phone on for unimportant updates
- Don't stay just to save face when others are when you don't have work to do. Either get out or help out.
- Don't find ways to justify your exhaustion. Find ways to fix it.

Don't Give Up Health

Comfort food, mindless entertainment, and short-term solutions are what people often turn to when they are stressed. Unfortunately, humans develop these things called habits, and habits determine our health. The donut you picked up with your coffee turns into two donuts every morning. The episode on Netflix before bed turns into a binge watch and loss of sleep. Workout routines turn into the comical signs at restaurants advertising "Free Beer Tomorrow".

For your list
- Don't make excuses with your diet
- Don't go more than 2 days in a row without a short workout
- Don't go back for seconds (or thirds)

Don't Waste Time

This is probably one of the biggest problems facing the Millennial Generation. The common workplace, home, and even commute all face more distractions than ever before. Our technology gives in so many ways which save time, but it also becomes a time suck which prevents us from staying rested, alert, and productive.

For your list
- Don't text/socialize/talk while driving (use your commute to decompress)
- Don't check your social media more than twice a day
- Don't use your phone right before you sleep (giving up sleep time)
- Don't have notifications turned on for non-vital things.

Knowing what you should do is great, but keeping a "To Don't" list will help you recognize and achieve what it takes to eliminate unproductive habits. Whether you are a CPA hopeful, student, or professional this simple practice will help you reach your goals faster while maintaining a healthier and happier life.

Tags: CPA Exam Prep, CPA Productivity, 2018 CPA Exam, accounting career

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