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One email. Every Sunday.

2min read. Reclaim your 168 hours. 

You're on the list!



A predefined list of unimportant things you commit to not do or spend time on. Items are crossed off the list as you successfully avoid doing them.


Mark McClain, Chief Executive Officer, SailPoint and best selling author of Joy and Success At Work: Building Organizations That Don’t Suck (The Life Out Of People)

"This is a really helpful book. Alex unlocks a new tool for professionals, managers and executives to help them manage their most critical resource: time. Not Doing List gives you practical, effective ways to say NO to the 'wrong' things, so you can say YES to 'right' things."


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Mary Abbajay, President & CEO, Careerstone Group LLC and author of Managing Up: How to Succeed with Any Type of Boss


Carolyn Frey, Chief People Officer, Philz Coffee

"Saying no to your boss is really hard. Alex outlines the fears that hold you back and gives you new tangible tips to make it routine, natural, and easy."

"Sick of feeling behind, overwhelmed and with a heavy mental load? This approach is a new way to take control. Alex unlocks a secret weapon for time management so you can confidently spend your time on what matters."


Bart van den Huijsen, Chief Financial Officer Europe, The HEINEKEN Company

"Saying no is really hard. Not Doing List breaks it down and helps you get better at it each day."


René Gobonya, Chief Financial Officer, American Modern Insurance Group

"We live in an always-on world. More data, decisions, stakeholders, and distractions. But, we don't have more time. Not Doing List provides a tactical step-by-step guide to clearing out the unimportant so you can focus on key bets to help you pull ahead."

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Haniel Lynn, Chief Executive Officer, Kastle Systems

“Staying focused is hard in this fully-digital easily-distracted work environment. Not Doing List outlines new and easy-to-implement tactics to help you stay focused and get ahead.”



Michael Misiewicz, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“Imagine what you could accomplish if you weren’t pulled in too many directions. The Not Doing List gives you a roadmap to focus your efforts on your highest value work.”

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Sara Welch Goucher, Director of eCommerce, Molson Coors Beverage Company

“Getting ahead as a leader requires focus and figuring out what is not important. Not Doing List offers a guide for future leaders to clear out low value things and crush your goals each year” 

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Bob Sicina, Professorial Lecturer at the American University Kogod School of Business and former President of Latin America and the Caribbean for American Express

“Brilliant minds understand the complex and explain it simply.  Alex is brilliant and so is his book. Saying no says easy but does hard.  Once mastered however, the power is awesome.  His book, “Not Doing List” is a 'must read’ for anyone looking to super-charge their career or even just enjoy the things in life you love most.”

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Shvetank Shah
CEO, ACA Group

"We usually let our calendars control us, rather than the other way around. The Not Doing List contains pragmatic guidance on how to prioritize what really matters."


This is your playbook for saying no to the right things every day so you can finally get ahead.

We have a significant yes problem that’s stunting our growth and career. Yes, more meetings, projects, clients, initiatives, reports, data, dashboards, collaboration, emails, notifications, and social media. Yes, make it digital, faster, and always-on.

We organize. We prioritize. We delegate. We calendar. We “focus.” Yet, we always feel behind. Eventually we hit a ceiling or burn out. The truth is that you, Oprah, Elon Musk, and Melinda Gates all get the same 168 hours each week. So, how do some leaders cut through and accomplish great things? Their yes-to-no ratio is just radically different from yours. They start each day by selecting all of the things they won’t spend time on. This allows them to channel enormous energy into the few things that matter most.

Saying no is really hard. It’s high risk. Most professionals get it wrong. Your strategy to get it right is a Not Doing List (NDL). This step-by-step guide shows you how to build your NDL, message no to everyone you work with (including your boss), and train your colleagues to do the same.





  •  Cancel marketing meeting 2pm 

  •  Tell Tom "no" for proposal support

  •  Don't fill out web dashboard



  •  Dodge Sarah at monthly pull-up

  •  Turn phone off from 9am-1pm 

  •  Skip afternoon client review 


  • Sign-out of IM from 1-5pm  ​

  • Quit Plymouth project team 

  • Don't read customer data pack  


  • Avoid agreeing to ops preview  

  • Turn-off social media all day 

  • Don't spend time arguing with Sam



  • Cancel 1:1 with Chad

  • Make Channel enhance their dashboard 

  • Only spend 1 hour max on rev analysis

1. Decline Meetings

2. Sign Out of Connectivity Tools

3. Dodge "Energy Vampires"

4. Kill Low-Value Projects

5. Skip Presentations

6. Delete Data

7. Lose Battles

8. Fire Customers

9. Avoid Networking

10. Shut Down Ideas

11. Delay Responses

12. Shred Proposals

13. Eliminate Reports

14. Decide Who Has to Ask Twice

15. Time-Box Work

16. Skip Emails 

17. Stop Doing Others' Work

18. Switch Off Your Phone

19. Side Step Distractions

20. Ignore Performance Gaps

21. Cancel Travel

Your NDL

Three Focus Areas

Large measures of professional success for this year and beyond

Weekly Wins

How you will define progress toward your focus areas this week

Not Doing List

Everything that doesn't help you achieve your weekly wins


Busy Professionals

#NDL helps busy professionals keep advancing by deciding what they need to stop doing or avoid in order to focus on important hard challenges for their organization. 

Remote Workers

Remote working exacerbates the challenges associated with time allocation, welcomes more distractions and creates less accountability. These factors amplify the need for a #NDL.

Women & Minority Leaders 

#NDL helps women and minority groups thrive in leadership roles more quickly by helping them say “no” to low value work and focus their time on strategically important tasks.


Five Fears Holding You Back From Saying No

1. Fear of Missing Out

2. Fear of Others Not Liking You

3. Fear of Looking Like a Slacker


4. Fear of Shaking Things Up

5. Fear of Something Harder 

We say yes 250+ times each day.

What's your yes to no ratio?




Introduction: Strategy is Choosing What You Won’t Do


Section I: Reallocate Your 168 Hours 

Chapter 1: Stop trying to “do it all”  

Chapter 2: Determine the opportunity cost of each hour

Chapter 3: Fight the five fears that drive us to say yes 

Chapter 4: Shift your mindset from yes to no 


Section II: Build Your Not Doing List (NDL)

Chapter 5: Start with what you want to achieve 

Chapter 6: Write weekly headlines to define the important things you will do

Chapter 7: Select projects, meetings, and flights for your NDL

Chapter 8: Name colleagues, customers, and underperformers for your NDL

Chapter 9: Add information, processes, ideas, and routine tasks to your NDL

Chapter 10: Design a distraction-less week 

Chapter 11: Decide what can never go on your NDL


Section III: Stick to Your Not Doing List 

Chapter 12: Make not doing a habit by celebrating your wins 

Chapter 13: Say no while building trust and lifting others up 

Chapter 14: Build high performing teams with NDLs



An NDL leap-frogs many other popular time management methods and can help readers save abundantly more time and get ahead with less effort. Popular works, such as, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Getting Things Done, Eat the Frog, 4-Hour Workweek, Boundaries, and others offer great methods for how to prioritize, sort, categorize, and action a mountain of to-dos and play to your strengths. However, many of the methods mentioned were built for a slower world when we scheduled meetings on physical calendars, consumed news from a physical paper, used a rolodex, made to-do lists on lined stationary, called colleagues on landlines, and set reminders by sticking post-it notes all over our desk. Today we live in an always-on, 150+ emails a day, 10+ notifications per hour, fully-digital, remote-working, easily-distracted, rapidly evolving professional setting. The only way to focus on what matters and get ahead is by saying “no” more often. The NDL protects your time and sanity, and must come before readers sort, categorize, and prioritize their work with other popular methods. 



Alexander Bant is the Chief of Research for CFOs at Gartner (NYSE: IT), where his business insights are used by 45,000 leaders at a majority of the Global 500. His research teams quantify and share what the top companies and their leaders do differently to maximize their people, processes, and technology. 

Alex has interviewed more than 3,300 C-level executives and led strategy sessions at more than 250 companies including: J&J, Boeing, Salesforce, GM, Disney, Starbucks, Heineken, Deere, Gilead, BMW, United Airlines, UPS, Philips, American Express, Verizon, Fidelity, McDonald’s, Allstate, and L’Oreal. Alex’s data and findings have been featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Fortune, Reuters, The Economist, Business Week, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, and more than 75 other media outlets. 

Alex holds a degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) and is an Adjunct Professor at American University's Kogod School of Business in Washington, D.C.

*Please note that this book and the opinions expressed are in no way associated with or represent the views of Gartner 

Alexander Bant




TEL: 202 294 5709  |

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