No, You Can’t Do It All. You Shouldn’t Anyway.
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
99% of people I know are overwhelmed by the increasing demands on their time and energy. This is especially true for my founder clients who run high-growth companies.
How can we feel peaceful and satisfied at the end of the day when we know there is so much more that can be done?
Simple. Stop trying to catch all the balls that are thrown at you.
Imagine the demands on you are like balls thrown at you. They are different colors coming from different directions. You are running around trying to catch them. Probably you are overwhelmed because you can't catch them all, and you realize the number of balls increase every minute. You catch them randomly and try to shoot them through the hoop of your goals. You are frustrated and stressed out because it’s impossible to catch them all and put them through the hoop in time.
Now imagine that these balls had a small number marked on them that indicates the points you’ll score when put through the hoop. Some of the numbers are 3-digits, some 2, and some 1-digit. Would you still pick them up randomly and shoot? Why would you waste time with a 10point ball when there are 100 or 500 point balls around?
Most of us treat our tasks, to-do items as if all of them are of equal value. In life though, things are rarely of the same value. The value and impact of the demands on us vary wildly. When our strategy is to tackle them all we shoot ourselves in the foot. First of all, it’s usually impossible given time and energy limitations. Second, some of them are not worth our precious resources spent on them.
A better approach is to stop trying to catch all the balls. Let them all fall on the ground while we walk around and examine their point values. We need to know how many shots we can accomplish every day, realistically and sustainably. If I can only have 5 shots every day, I would pick the 5 highest number of balls and go for it. At the end of the day, I’d have the chance to feel accomplished as I took care of the most important items. I wouldn’t have to worry about guilt either since I never even intended to take care of everything I can.
It is true that culture eats strategy for breakfast but strategy eats hard work for lunch. That’s why the best students in school are hardly the best business people. We need to approach how we spend our days with strategy and intention if we want to be successful, happy and healthy.