It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a boss, are self-employed, or a stay at home parent; chances are you regularly find yourself wondering if you’ll ever get to the end of your “to do” list.
Let me tell you now, no you won’t.
The reality of life, whether personal or professional, is there’s always something else. As you work from the top, clearing items off, someone will be adding to the bottom. If you’re really strapped for time, you’ll find yourself firefighting – only the really important and urgent stuff will get done. Which is great, but that still means you’ve got this lengthy list of “other” things you need to find time to get around to.
Personally, I used to find the fact that there was a never-ending list waiting for me at home, or in the office, really stressful. It was always there, in the back of my mind, no matter what else I was trying to do.
And then one day I finally accepted, that it’ll never get done. There will always be a list, even if the items change day by day, the list remains. Looking at me, with its evil judgmental eyes, whispering “you’re not good enough, you can’t beat me”.
Many of us feel the pressure to clear the list, to somehow prove that we’re on top of things. Admittedly, it feels great when you tick items off, but clearing an actual physically written down list proves nothing. There’ll be other things on there that you didn’t put on that list. There is always something else.
This is the point I always try to drive home when I start working with a new client who wants VA support. Invariably clients come to me and they feel completely overwhelmed. They’re stressed because they have “so much to do and not enough time to do it in”. They’re working late, barely seeing their kids, not sleeping or eating properly and are in danger of burn out.
Just as worrying, they’re in danger of falling out of love with their business. Which then makes working a chore. Just another thing they have to do, rather than something they have chosen. This thing that keeps them away from the things they love, and helps them pay the bills. For those that have cashflow problems, it’s not even doing that. It’s just a millstone around their neck.
A friend of mine is an Air Traffic Controller in London. I’ve heard him talk about how difficult the job is, the pressure, the speed with which everything moves, having to keep your eyes on so many different things, and I’ve asked him how he manages.
The answer’s simple. Instead of looking at every single plane that’s circling around out there, you focus on one at a time. You look at your planes, the ones that are taking off, coming in to land, or are just passing overhead. You look at the bit you’re in control of, and you let your team mates worry about the bits they’re in charge of.
He said it’s impossible to look at all of it, you’d go mad; but yet, business owners invariably try to do just that.
Yes, a VA can undoubtedly help – it gives you another pair of eyes on the screen, and allows you to focus on your planes. However, I promise you this is not a sales pitch. I’d rather leave you with one important thought: You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.
Give yourself a break. Stop worrying about the list, and instead focus on one thing at a time, do that exceptionally, cross it off, and then move on.