It’s a plague sweeping the masses…too much to do and not enough time to do it.

Unless you’re in a Dali painting, it seems time does not bend. No matter how frustrated you get, you cannot seem to put 25 or 26 hours in a day. Ugh.

A client came to me with this issue. Though she was a whirlwind of energy, achieving and doing, she could never seem to get “enough” done.

There’s a weird magic in coaching—sometimes a client talks aloud long enough to let their own inner wisdom sneak out:

“Maybe I’m putting too much on my to-do list.”

Aha, now we’re on to something!

I asked her to share all the things that were currently on her to-do list from that moment until bedtime. Then I asked:

“What do you absolutely HAVE to do today?” There was one thing.

One thing! Yet there were many things left on the list. I said, “What do you make of that?”

In that moment, she realized her stress was self-imposed. Zap came the insight that changed everything. She had been putting unrealistic (and unnecessary) expectations on herself. She was feeling that everything on her list was a HAVE-TO, when really, all but one were SHOULD-DOS (or COULD-DO-ANOTHER-TIMEs).

And what was happening in her life while she was living that way?

  • A high level of stress
  • Constant feeling of being behind
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sagging energy
  • Feeling  undeserving of doing things she enjoyed (gotta pay to play, right?)

In short, a cycle of too much to do > not enough time to do it > not getting it done > feeling bad > not having enough energy to tackle the to-do list > feeling bad, rinse and repeat :-)

There are three types of tasks: GOTTA-DOs, SHOULD-DOs and WANNA-DOs. Aside from the GOTTA-DOs, you get to choose. You are not a victim! You can loosen your reins. You can.

So the next time you make your to-do list, start with your gotta-dos, then add in enough wanna-dos to stay on top of things and give yourself some joy. (I'll let you in a secret: Joy is one of the things that fuels energy, which then fuels productivity...).

Then do your best not to should on yourself…