You can’t do it all… yet.

Believe it or not, you can’t do it all; or rather, I should say you can’t do it all yet. I don’t know about you, but I am a huge list maker and I love trying new things. Over the years I’ve definitely gone through my fair share of stress because of it. Then, I changed three simple things that not only gave me the ability to reduce the stress in my daily life, but also helped me grow in my own daily habits. Let’s explore the three problems that can hold us back from doing it all and the solutions that have worked for me.

Problem #1: We seriously think we can do it all.

Failing to understand that the world outside of our own consciousness has constraints like time, physics, and, you know, the basic realities of life; we sit down and make a long lists of everything we’d like to accomplish today and change in the future. This isn’t inherently bad, it just needs to be taken in stride. I’ll give you two examples of this; first, we we list everything out on a long sheet of paper; to do’s, habits we’re trying to reinforce, and also daily projects that need to get done.

Then, we hit the list hard for a day, two days, maybe even a week, but soon the burn out hits. It’s too much for any sane (or even insane) person to handle. There is no rhyme or reason to how we’re approaching our list. The ultimate goal with this method is to clear the list. Let me be the first to tell you, this will never happen. You will be perpetually running in circles trying to clear your list.

Solution: Categorize your list.

It’s perfectly fine to brainstorm and write everything you’d like to accomplish down in one sitting but that doesn’t mean you’re done with your ‘do it all’ planning. You need to take it a few steps further. Separate your tasks into categories, however you choose, but you must categorize. I like to separate mine into categories like, needs to be done now, needs to be done soon, can be done later, and habit changes.

Whatever method you choose to categorize yours in is what is going to work for you, so find your own method. For a while I was categorizing my tasks into, small project, medium project and large project based on the amount of effort or time I needed to complete each tasks. That worked for me for the time that I needed it and then I found I needed another method. There is no perfect way of doing this, just the way that is best for your life.

You’re not done yet. We still have to tackle the other two problems. So, let’s move on.

Problem #2: Time doesn’t exist in our world.

Second, we are unrealistic about the time it takes to actually accomplish a particular item or activity. In the real world there’s this nasty little thing called time that is continually throwing a wrench into our perfectly stress free days. If you don’t have this trouble, or can function in a world without constraints of time then skip to Problem #3. If you, like me, have obligations that keep you still watching the clock and the calendar, then, my friend, we need to get real about what’s on your list.

Being dishonest about the time it actually takes to complete a project or make a habit isn’t helping anyone and most definitely is not making your life any less stressful. I have two solutions to this problem.

Solution: Be honest about your time and add more to the estimate.

The first step is to be brutally honest with yourself about the time it takes to accomplish a task, the second is to add 15% to that. Let’s start with being honest; let’s say I allot 30 minutes to vacuum my house. Now, with my house it is possible if I don’t move anything and rush just a little. If I’m being honest, I’d allot 45 minutes because then I can take my time and do a thorough job. Also, If I decide to move anything and vacuum underneath it, I have the time to do it.

In addition to that, I’m going to add 15% of additional time. Why? Because who knows what’s actually going to happen when I start vacuuming. I could vacuum one of my dogs toys (it’s happened) and have to fix the problem. I could find that I’d like to clean the vacuum tank before I begin. A whole number of things could happen and instead of racing the clock and running behind I find it’s better to give extra time and end up not using it.

This applies to all tasks on your list. Go ahead, be honest, plan extra, and then schedule accordingly. No, your not done yet, but you can almost do it all.

Problem #3: Asking for help is the same as failing.

I’m not sure where I got the notion that asking for help was in some way failing, but I do. If you don’t have a problem passing tasks off, kudos to you, you have mastered the art of doing it all. For those of you who hate passing tasks off, read on, I have faith in you that you too can overcome this.

I think part of not asking for help is that no one is going to do it like you would or as well as you would. That may be true, but here’s the honest truth, so what. I’m not saying that you can do this with everything, but let’s go back to the vacuuming task. Sure, I think I can vacuum better than any vacuuming ninja and no one can find the dust bunnies like me. But let’s be honest, sometimes you just need your floors vacuumed. It’s better to ask for someones help if they are available than to spread yourself so thin that your stressed about the fact that you can’t get to vacuuming your floors.

I think you’re starting to see the point. There are several tasks that we can simply ask someone else to help us with, even if it’s for a short period of time. This is not a failure on your part but rather a success and also a gift. Not only do you free up your time and mental capacity for tasks that require more of your mental awareness, but you also give someone a chance to hone their ninja dust bunny fighting capabilities, and who knows, maybe they actually do become better dust bunny fighters than you.

To add one final word…

you can do it all. You just can’t do it all at once. Also, take the time to enjoy the tasks you’re accomplishing. Practice being in the moment and savoring this extraordinary thing we call life. I’ve noticed that when I am present in the moment I open myself to all sorts of new ideas and growth. Have the flexibility in your task lists and daily calendar to let the moment lead you. It’s great to have a plan, but the true growth comes from having the ability to adjust that plan as the moment dictates.

This approach has not only freed my life of stress but has also taught me so much about my own physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. I wish the same for you. Another thing that has helped is knowing which tasks I should be taking on, which is another topic I’ve covering in the article Live Your Life. Check the article out if you need a bit of encouragement about taking care in the projects you’re working on.

xo,

Isabelle

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