Daily Do and Don’t List

I watched a great video of Jack Dorsey (Co-Founder of Twitter, Founder & CEO of Square) recently from the Y-Combinator Startup School 2013 event.

Jack Dorsey - Startup School 2013

There were a number of great takeaways and it’s well worth a watch, however the best one for me was his habit of keeping lists – specifically a daily do and don’t list.

He wakes up to this list, checks it a number of times throughout the day and also before he goes to bed.

There are a couple of reasons I really liked this:

Firstly, it keeps you very focused on what’s important to you and on the type of person you want to be.

And secondly, it’s habit oriented. For a long time now I have struggled with the notion and value of setting goals – particularly very ambitious and specific goals.

Things change far too much and they become irrelevant quickly, they distract from enjoying the present moment and often when we do hit them it’s less satisfying than we imagine it to be. However, if you focus on the habits and smaller steps, the bigger stuff normally takes care of itself and you also enjoy the process so much more.

I have come to the conclusion that all you need is a rough idea of the types of things you want to achieve (being specific can actually hurt you) and then your energy and focus should go on the habits you need to actually establish or the actions you need to take (James Clear recently wrote a great article about this – Completely Ignoring Your Goals).

Now, this isn’t a ‘get groceries’ to do list – this is a list of habits or things you want to do every day.

Below is my list. It’s a little personal and I share a few of Jack Dorsey’s (seems we have similar interests and I drew some inspiration from his list to), but I thought it would be good to share for context:


  • rise early
  • eat paleo
  • short run or walk
  • be present
  • meditate
  • delight and spend quality time with Ella
  • get 7 hours of sleep
  • write
  • read
  • be minimal
  • disconnect and take time for solitude
  • say hello to people and make eye contact
  • be optimistic – always


  • be wasteful with money
  • think negatively

I’ve been using this list daily for a couple of weeks now and it’s definitely helping me stay more focused on the types of things I want to do and the type of person I want to be. I don’t always manage everything on the list, but I also don’t stress out about that either – I’m simply conscious of them throughout the day and try to do as many of them as I can whilst enjoying it!

The list has been refined a bit as I notice things throughout the day and it’s now starting to settle into a concise list that feels right for me at the moment.

Here is the video of Jack Dorsey from the Y-Combinator Startup School 2013 event – enjoy!

P.S – I am reading ‘The Score Takes Care of Itself’ book by Bill Walsh that is recommended by Jack Dorsey in his talk – it’s pretty awesome so far.

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