You CAN’T do it all. Here’s why.
1. How much time do you really have?
I once did a pie chart of my day, down to how long it took to eat, groom, commute, etc. Beyond trying to creatively multi-task (one should not do squats while brushing ones teeth, FYI), I discovered that apparently, I have a finite amount of “free” time. You know this, yes. But when you do a pie chart, you really know it.
With that sadly small sliver on my pie chart of “free time”, I had to decide how it was spent. TV? Long hot bath? Workout? Read? Write? Troll Instagram? Work on backhand? Clear out overcrowded inbox? Read magazines? Take up wood carving?
2. What is worthy of that time?
Have I ever mentioned that I want to speak like four languages, play the violin, become a black belt and a ceramicist?
If you have seen Tangled, (Yes, the children’s movie. Don’t judge!) you have seen my life’s aspiration.
So many skills, so few hours in the day. *sigh* How, with this finite amount of time, could I ever do all the things I want to do?
- I could work on each project/hobby/goal for 5 minutes a day and likely never become proficient at any of them.
- I could spin my wheels on day to day stuff and put the big goals onto a different, less visited list.
- Or I could devote and invest time into a single life goal and see it to fruition. Singular purpose. Multi-tasking is a no go here.
3. Is being busy and productive the same as accomplishing?
Being busy feels like being productive, right?
But the little stuff is usually not connected to the big stuff. For example, having a detailed car, washed dog and organized garage has little to do with my life goals. And a lot of the time, we DO have to choose. (Yes, even acknowledging this, I choose wrong.)
It’s tempting for us Type A’s out there to just put it all on the to do list and start pounding the pavement. We can do it all. We MUST do it all. WE WILL DO IT ALL!
Beyond the usual advice about burn out, the fact is, with an uber long to do list, you’re less likely to accomplish the things that matter most. The goal becomes shortening “the list” as opposed to working long and hard on a single project (with the reward of a single notch on said list). Guilty. At the end of the day, it’s easy to see a lot of little things done and harder to see a little of a big thing done.
But it’s fake productivity! Big things often don’t look like accomplishments until they are. And true accomplishment is only the big things. In 5 years, no one will care how busy you were, how clean your dog, pristine your garage, or tidy your files. What will you show for all that busy-ness? (if you think this is an excuse to not clean the garage, you wouldn’t be wrong)
Choose your biggest priority, the one you will care about in 5 years, for instance. Then, use those little slivers of pie time for it. As much of those pockets of time as you can for AS LONG AS IT TAKES.
Yeah, sure it’s not terribly gratifying when someone asks how a project is going and the answer is “still working on it” again and again. But one day they’ll be like, “I don’t know how you did that.” But you will know. You will know.