We Don't Have To Do It All

Lately I’ve become acutely aware of how I am making decisions and how I am spending my time.

Many people “want to do it all”. They yearn for more…something faster and better. They’re proud overachievers. Their busy schedule is a badge of honor. They feel uncomfortable “just being”. Full confession here…I used to be one of these people. And I was worn out. Period.

About 18 months ago, I created a filter, which helped me make better decisions about how I spend my time.


  1. Does it benefit me personally?
  2. Does it benefit me professionally?
  3. Is it just plain fun?

If I could answer yes to any one of these 3 questions, I’d do it, most of the time.

But here’s where I got snagged. Sometimes I’d have to make another choice. Sometimes I’d have something pre-planned and a new opportunity would arise, and I would ask myself the 3 questions, and of course I would say yes to one of the questions. But the problem was, I already had something scheduled. Now what? I had to learn the hard way that “Less is More”. So now, I’m practicing the art narrowing my focus to what really, really matters. Greg McKeown, in Essentialism, says, “Discern the vital few from the trivial many”.

I’m not saying this is easy, and I’m sure not saying I’m an expert at it. But I am saying I had to start.


First, I created the new paradigm in my mind that I didn’t have to be busy all the time. Busy-ness does not equate to effective. I’ve realized over the years that being busy can be the antithesis of being effective. And I’ll take effective any day of the week.

Second, I learned to make better choices. Sometimes I’d say yes too quickly, and have to later go back and tell someone that I wouldn’t be able to do, or go or participate in whatever it was I had originally said yes too. I’ve found that people create their own stories for why others change their mind. (But I’m not going to spend my time correcting them.)

Third, I practiced what I preach: “What other people think of me is none of MY business”.

Choices can sometimes be hard, especially if you have no mission or vision. My to-do list is shorter than it’s ever been. Honestly, I got tired of continuing to write down (and then forward to another day) all of the items that I just knew I would never do. And if I stopped writing them down, I would feel more accomplished.

And I do.