The Dos and Don’ts of Dos and Don’ts List Making

Whether it's for your coworkers, your family and friends, or just a friendly little reminder for yourself, a succinct dos and don'ts list is the perfect way to exchange vital information and lay out a clear path for positive future achievement. Making the right list might seem like a daunting experience, but it's easier than you think. Just follow along with this simple list of the dos and don’ts of dos and don’ts list-making, and soon you'll have the knowhow to make a thousand dos and don’ts lists. Let's get started.

Do start with a do

Every dos and don’ts list should start with something positive and motivating, i.e., a do. This opens you up creatively, and unconsciously encourages more list writing. I could have said don’t start with a don’t, but that's very aggressive. Don’t do that.

Don’t worry about spelling

Try not to edit yourself too much when making a list. The point of a dos and don’ts list is getting your ideas down, not the grammatical precision of those ideas. You can always go back and fix the spelling atferwurbs.

Do go back and forth

Some people prefer a column-based dos and don’ts list, with the dos on the left and the don’ts on the right, but I prefer a back-and-forth, point form style dos and don’ts system. It adds to the drama, making the decision between do-ing and don’t-ing more of an unforeseeable rollercoaster ride. You don't want to immediately know how many dos and don’ts are on each side of the list. It spoils the fun.

Don’t worry about amounts

Some lists might have more dos than don’ts; others might have more don’ts than dos. Rest assured, it's about quality, not quantity. However, if you can, don’t do too many don’ts. 'Lotta don’ts don’t seem doable, do they?

Do doo-doo beforehand

Make sure you're all clear, intestinally speaking, for your dos and don’ts list. You don't want to get interrupted halfway through with an emergency bathroom break. It's a waste of time and can really throw off your writing momentum.

Don’t number your dos and don’ts

Dos and don’ts lists aren't about numbers; they're about action and emotion. If there’s even a single number anywhere on your dos and don’ts list, I suggest you 187 that thing, pull a 180 and give a new list 110 percent like it was your 9-to-5, 10-4?

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

It's not always easy to separate the player from the game in the heat of the moment, but if you're hating on a player for their actions, you're really hating on the system which allows these actions to take place. Each player is just trying to stay afloat in an unfair game, the only game each of us has the power to play. So don’t hate the player. However, do feel free to hate the game at any point.

De do do do de da da da by The Police.

De do do do de da da da is all I want to say to you. De do do do de da da da; their innocence will pull me through. (Side note: don’t bother with Sting's solo career.)

Do save your best point for last

You want your dos and don’ts list to stick, and the best way to do that is to end your list on a powerful emotional note. Really bring the subtext of your list to the surface with your last point as if to say, “If you leave here remembering only one thing, let it be this.” 

Do ugh

Do ugh. Do-ugh. Dough. Cookie dough. Eat some cookie dough. With ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream. Remember to buy cookie dough ice cream later. Don’t forget to do that.