What to do when there’s no time to do ‘all the things’

Kelly Exeter Dealing with overwhelm, Popular

How to do all the things

As I sit here writing this post, here are ‘all the things’ I was meant to have ‘achieved’ this year so far:

  • Written the first draft of my next book How to Say No.
  • Re-written Your Best Year Yet with a new title, new chapters and the addition of some awesome case studies from readers who took action after reading the book.
  • Launched the Digital Marketing for Small Business e-book that is written and designed … just needs launching.
  • Written one quality blog post here at kellyexeter.com.au every single week no matter what.
  • Had at least one super-mega-high-quality guest post published on a big American site.
  • Run a half marathon in preparation for running a marathon later this year.

Sadly, not one of these things can be ticked as ‘done’. And in the past, this would not have sat well with me. But if I’ve learned one thing over the past five or so years, it’s that those of us who are serial strivers with kids, partners, jobs, families and lives to be lived; we need to be kinder to ourselves.

How do we do this?

1. Make peace with the fact that we can’t do ‘everything’

In a time before kids I could do everything. Every idea I had, every goal or opportunity that presented itself to me, I could chase after it because I could burn the candle at both ends … and in the middle too if I wanted. Nowadays, I could still do that – but then I’d be utterly useless to my family. That’s not really fair to them … and ‘constantly snappy and cranky’ is not really the person I want to be either.

2. Understand that this is a good thing

Making peace with the inability to do everything we want to do should not be seen as a grudging concession. It should be seen as a crucial life skill. Chasing after every single opportunity and idea that presents itself to us is the fastest way to find ourselves drowning in life. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, single and without a care in the world; or 40, with three kids,  two jobs and a mortgage; drowning in life is no way to be.

3. Understand if you’re doing something only for your ego, it’s not that important

Now don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe we need to look after our egos. But if we’re trying to figure out which of the million things we want to do aren’t really a priority, the things we want to do to purely satisfy our egos are a good place to start. See that second last item on my list at the top? The one where I desperately want to have a guest post published on a big American site? While that could potentially help me build my list on my blog … more than anything, that one’s an ego thing. So in the long list of priorities, that one has to fall to the bottom.

4. Check your envy

When I catch myself being envious of people (like the four people I know who ran the Boston Marathon this week), I ask myself “do I just want their highlight reel?” (ie The pictures of them running the marathon and triumphantly crossing the line.) Because it is horribly unfair to covet what someone has, or has achieved, without also asking yourself “would I have been willing to do what they did to achieve that thing?”

In the past few months, was I willing to sacrifice my precious morning writing time in favour of doing more than my usual 30 minute trot? Was I willing to sacrifice those gloriously slow Saturday and Sunday mornings with my kids and husband in order to do a three hour long run? No, I was not. Therefore I can check my ‘marathon envy’ at the door.

5. Figure out what you really want to do

Ok, I’m assuming you’ve now made peace with the fact that you can’t do ‘everything’. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to do anything. So how do you figure out where to spend your precious and limited time?

Well, if:

  • You just can’t stop thinking about something, and
  • You’re doing that thing for you and no one else, and
  • You feel the sacrifices you have to make in order for that thing to happen are worth it (because everything worth doing involves some kind of sacrifice) …

Then pursue that thing. You won’t need to give too much thought to wondering where you will find the time to do it because, given how badly you want that thing, you will make the time.

Before you do that however, there is one final, and very important step in the ‘being kind to yourself’ equation that needs to be executed.

6. Stop and reflect on what you have achieved

This year has not panned out the way I expected thus far. Yet:

  • I have two healthy, happy and confident kids.
  • I’m loving my Editor role with Flying Solo.
  • I was a speaker at the Perth Problogger event.
  • I’m feeling fit and healthy and am the strongest I’ve ever been in my life thanks to a combination of running, CrossFit and a great diet.
  • I did my first running race in nearly three years last week – and surprised myself.
  • My husband and I have worked our way through a really major crisis in our businesses and still love each other.
  • We’re building our ‘forever’ house.

I’m sure I’m missing stuff from the above, so clearly, as much as I’d love to see this year as devoid of achievement to date, it’s actually been pretty ok.

And I’m sure if you performed the same exercise, you’d find the same too.

Do you feel frustrated by the lack of time you have to do ‘all the things’? Do you have a tip for dealing with it?