I honestly don’t think a single day goes by where I don’t see something that talks about what I need to do to be more successful in the workplace. My inbox, news feeds and social media are inundated daily with list after list, with click-bait headlines that rely on superlatives and absolutes, like “Four Things You Should Never Ask Prospective Employees,” “Five Words That Should Be in Every Email” and “The Six Best Ways to Do More With Less!” 

Web sites like Buzzfeed have made the odious “listicle”—an article that’s just a glorified list—a reality, churning out oversimplified light entertainment ideal for sharing on social media. In the professional realm, LinkedIn and other sites distribute plenty of them too. They’ve even become widespread enough to spawn a parody site, www.clickhole.com, from the people behind satirical news site The Onion.

My advice: ditch the list. Putting down that “Top Five” list could help you and your practice save time, money and energy. 

I stopped paying attention to nearly all of these listicles about a year ago. Ever since I stopped reading and using any of this “sage” advice, business has never been better. I doubt I can attribute the success solely to just the cessation of mindless reading, but it has certainly been liberating not to get bogged down with too many general, catch-all lists! Instead, here is my own personal list, “Four Things I Do With the Extra Time I Don’t Waste Reading Lists About What I Should be Doing Differently.”

1.  I get more things done. Everyone has a seemingly never-ending to-do list, and I’m convinced there will always be more good ideas than there will be time to execute them. Therefore, I have committed to continually focus on the most important things right away, confident that I will eventually get to the other things later. And if I don’t, that’s OK—at least I got to the most important ones.

2.  I spend more time focusing on the strategic direction of the company. First, because it’s my job. As the chief dream officer at the Power Practice, it’s up to me to lead the rest of my team and set the course for our future. 

In your office, if you’re the practice owner, it’s your job to plan for your practice’s future. Saying, “I want to grow my practice” isn’t planning. I’m talking about having firm plans—concrete, actionable goals with a sound strategy to achieve them. That’s your job and it takes time. Second, because now that I’m not wasting time reading lists, I actually have more time to get this important task done!

3. I enjoy myself more. You are probably already measuring a lot of things in your practice, including revenue, the number of established patients vs. new patients, the percentage of patients wearing contact lenses vs. glasses and staff productivity. 

In addition to these conventional measurements, I always measure how happy I am doing what I’m doing. Yes, it’s hard to quantify “happiness” but from time to time, I stop to catch my breath and ask, “Am I happy doing what I’m doing?” So far, the answer has been a resounding “Yes!” Keep that in mind as you work through this list. If you’re not happy with your career situation or profession, try to make changes to fix that. If you can’t, change careers. Yeah—that’s hard. But we both know it’s the right thing to do.

4. I focus more on what I want. Stop wasting time reading lists about what successful people do and start doing things that are important to you.

However, if you can’t resist and you find yourself being suckered into another list—I’ll admit happens to me occasionally—find the strength to move on after the first obvious point. 

For example, I recently read an article about how to respond to negative online reviews, thinking maybe I’d find something valuable to share with our clients. The first point said to “make sure you monitor your reviews.” This was beyond “Captain Obvious” for me and was enough to stop me from reading further. When the lead-in point is that clear, I recommend moving on to something more productive.

So, put this list down and get to work!