What if you can’t get it all done?

If you feel like you’re racing through your day trying to “get it all done,” be careful. You might be doing more harm than good.

I know you’ve been conditioned to complete your tasks and meet deadlines, but if you are constantly struggling to keep up, something needs to change.

Unfortunately many executive clients with whom I work think they need to do more, work more hours and put even more pressure on themselves to keep up with the demands of their work.

They end up burned out and exhausted. They beat themselves up or dread going to work. In many cases their frustration at work spills into their personal life.

If you’re sliding on the downward spiral, here are some things you can do to get perspective and get back on track. Better yet, you can put yourself on a better track.

1. Hit the pause button. When you’ve been running too hard too fast, you need to stop and catch your breath. Break your routine in some way. This alone will give you a jolt and help you approach your work in a fresh way. If that doesn’t work, see item #2 below.

2. Hit the reset button. Reprogram your thinking. Pay attention to the beliefs and assumptions you’re making about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then think of different beliefs that could be more empowering for you.

Here are some examples:

Original belief:

I must get everything done today.

New belief:

I must only do what is most important today.

Original belief:

I want to get as much done as I can.

New belief:

I want to create the highest value I can.

Original belief:

If I don’t meet everyone’s expectations, I’ve failed.

New belief:

I will be guided by my own definition of success. 

penQuick… Take 3 minutes. Write down some of your own beliefs about your work that come to mind. 

No editing. Just write. Seeing your beliefs in writing makes them more real. 

When your done, see if any insights or surprises came up for you.

Get the picture? What you believe is what will drive your actions.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

Sometimes simply switching one belief can make a big difference.

Before you resort to some kind of time management course, look at some of the real reasons that could be causing the issue: 

  • You’re not playing to your strengths. Instead of focusing on what you do best, you’re trying to be all things to all people. What are your core strengths?
  • You don’t have proper systems or habits in place to support you. How can you create them? (One business owner client tried almost every expensive high tech organizing system on the market. Spent thousands of dollars. Eventually he realized he likes using simple index cards to organize his daily activities. One size does not fit all.)
  • Expectations are unreasonable. Who set them? Do they need to be re-evaluated?
  • You’re not in the right role. You could have outgrown your role or you’re ready for something new. Are you ready for the next level?
  • Your mind and environment are too cluttered. Maybe disorganization is slowing you down. Clutter can be a cover for other issues you don’t want to address. Perhaps a professional organizer could help. Or are there other resources?
  • You’re easily distracted. Team members or clients are pulling you in different directions. More reason to concentrate on top priorities. What are your real top priorities? How can you be more present? 
  • You’re a people pleaser and can’t say “no.” What would happen if you established better boundaries?
  • You’re procrastinating or waiting until the last minute to do the work. What are you resisting?
  • You’re a perfectionist. You’re not willing to hand off to other people to handle some aspects of the job. What’s the risk of taking on too much yourself? What could be possible if you delegated? 
  • You’re stuck in a dysfunctional pattern, continuing to do what you’ve always done even though the market or job requirements have changed. What can you do to break free? What new idea will you try?

If you are constantly stressed and lack a sense of accomplishment in your work, that’s a sign to rethink some things. (This can actually be a good thing!)

Don’t judge yourself.

At the end of the day, only you can decide to make whatever changes are necessary.

What if you changed nothing and continued to try to get it all done as usual?

You can continue on the elusive path to try to get it all done…


Commit to doing or creating the kind of work that really matters to you in the way you do it best.

PS: What’s a specific challenge you’re facing in your business or leadership role? 

I’d love to know so I can address the topic in a future article or in other programs I’m developing.

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