Lisa Robbin Young

We're slowly recovering from the rollover last week. My son's doing better this week, but we're still not out of the woods. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and well-wishes. It really did make the whole week seem better.

Through it all, thankfully, I still managed to get the important things in my life and work done. How? I learned a very simple way to prioritize my day so that what's really important gets handled. No. Matter. What.

About a year ago, I shared a brief overview of The PEACE System in one of the first season episodes. The one hurdle that people keep bringing to me is the never-ending to-do list. Despite prioritizing everything, there's a LOT of to-do's that still aren't getting done.

This week, we're digging into why.

If your to-do list is too long, here's how to fix it for good.

Warning: you may be stepping on a few toes when you do, but never fear! The Spice Girls are here to help you!

Three kinds of To-Do's

Inside The PEACE System, I talk about three different kinds of to-do's. By paying attention to the different kinds of to-do's on your list, you can get a better handle on what is keeping you from getting more of the right things done.

Must-Do's are activities that must be done AND must be done by YOU, in order to reap the benefit. Generally, these are what I consider IPA - Important Personal Activities, or Income-Producing Activities. The definitions of those terms (like so many of the terms I use) are loose, and open to your interpretation. Brushing your teeth is a must-do. It's not likely you're going to get someone else to do it for you, and if you don't do it, well, there are consequences. Within the Must-Do category, there are a couple of types of Must-Do's - Routine/preventative (like brushing your teeth, seeing your kid's class play, or doing client work, for example), and Emergency (car roll-over, in-laws decided to drop in, that kind of thing).

The irony of many Emergency Must-Do's is that they are often (but not always) the result of NOT doing the Routine Must-Do's. If you don't get your tires checked on schedule, you could end up with a blowout on the freeway which causes the car to roll over - and the subsequent trip to the Emergency room. Do not skip the Routine stuff just because it's unsexy, or doesn't seem urgent. Preventative maintenance is crucial in your life and business!

Want To-Do's are all those activities related to the fun things we really want to do - like taking a trip (or planning it), visiting friends, working on a hobby, reading, watching a movie, etc. These aren't things that move the needle on our business, and they're not necessarily Must Do's, but we really want to do them. Chaotic and Fusion creatives tend to have a long list of Want To-Do's, which can lead to resentment, anger, frustration, and other disempowering emotions when you can't find the time to do those things. This typically results in an "all or nothing" rampage where work on everything else stops until you can clear some of the Want To-Do's off your list. Like the day I refused to do any work and just binge-watched my favorite show on Netflix all day. Not productive, but I sure did enjoy myself - until I started feeling guilty about not getting any work done.

Should-Do's are the bane of humanity. And I don't say that lightly. Everything from the well-meaning insinuations of your friends and family ("you should really finish packing for your trip, sweetie!"), to the more overt accusations we throw at ourselves ("I should really get to the gym this week!"), Should-Do's are the things that we throw into our day without making them a real priority. In the end, you may find yourself accomplishing a lot of Should-Do's, but not moving forward on your most important priorities at all. You sure are busy, but you're spinning your wheels on unimportant tasks - or worse, waffling from "should" to "should" - like bouncing back and forth between email and facebook messages for ten or fifteen minutes, just to be "sure" you're not missing anything important - and not getting anything accomplished at all.

Not that I speak from experience, or anything (sigh).

It's easy to get stuck in a "should-do" loop, and the only way to break the cycle is to make a decision. If it's a real priority, put it in your calendar and act on it appropriately. If you're not sure if it's a priority or not, try using the Eisenhower Matrix to help you get clarity. If it's not a priority, don't pretend like it is - even to appease your family or friends. In reality, you're doing a disservice to yourself and those well-meaning loved ones. Instead, set and enforce clear boundaries around your priorities and your time. And...

Be willing to accept the consequences of the priorities you set. (Tweet This)

Some people will balk at your new-found decisiveness. After all, you've been training them to give you all this well-meaning advice for a while now. It may take time to get them on board with this new direction. Your biggest fans, however, will understand that this is something you've got to do to take control of your calendar and start gaining momentum toward that Noble Empire and inspired life you're creating.

How do you take control of your calendar?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and let's be a rising tide fo everyone. If you're interested in learning more about The PEACE System, be sure to get on the wait list, as enrollment re-opens this fall.

It's report card time around here. My youngest is struggling in gym class. Sadly, I've seen it before with his older brother.

"Won't even attempt new activities," the report card reads.

So hubby and I sat down with our 8 year old to find out what's going on.

"I can't do it." He said. "I'm not good at it."

It can be hard to try something new. And even harder to be GOOD at it - especially when you've never done it before. That doesn't mean you can't do it.

Try telling that to an 8 year old... oh wait, we did!

You say you "can't" - but...

...what you really mean is that you've never done it well before.

Like when you say you can't sing. Yes. you can. Anyone with a functional voice box can sing. Even my husband, who can't carry a tune in a lead-lined bucket can sing SOME songs.  You just have to find the right ones. Maybe you aren't Pavarotti, but even Madonna doesn't sound like Madonna (thanks, autotune).

So often we use the words "I can't" as code for "I'm not good enough" or "I don't know how." As we talked with our kid, it became apparent this was a case of being afraid to look foolish or be wrong in public. It was also a case of not being willing to ask for help to learn how to do something (or do it better).

Curse the English language!

We have gotten used to so much linguistic short hand, that we're actually programming our brains to believe something isn't possible, when, in actuality, it is. As entrepreneurs, we need to reclaim our truth and speak it without shorthand.

"I don't feel comfortable doing this, because I'm not as good as I would like to be."

"I don't know how to do it (or do it well). Can you help me?"

I've shortened my learning curve immensely in life and business by asking for help, yet, I'm the same person that still struggles with asking for help with things I think I "should" know already.

Living in "The Shoulds"

"The Shoulds" are a comfortable state of paralysis that most of us visit from time to time. It goes like this:

"I should really work out more." But you don't.

"I should really look for a new job." But you don't.

"My mother in law says I should spend more time reading to my kids." But you don't.

"My clients think I should offer evening appointments." But you don't.

And my all-time favorite: "I should already know this by now." But you don't.

In short, "The Shoulds" are a laundry list of to-do's that you have yet to accomplish - either because you don't really want to do them, or because you haven't yet figured out HOW to do them. It's a limbo-land that keeps you from taking action, and only diminishes our value as humans an entrepreneurs.

It's normal. we all go there from time to time. The trick is to keep our visits short. Otherwise, we're creating unrealistic expectations of ourselves. When we have an expectation of our capabilities that doesn't match our reality, two things happen:

  1. We get frustrated with ourselves.
  2. We get display disempowering emotions to others (fear, anger, resentment, etc.)

Rather than root out the cause (living in "The Shoulds"), we keep beating ourselves up - over and over - until something happens. And that "something" isn't always helpful. If we're lucky, we've got a support system to help us see we're in "The Shoulds" and can point it out to us. But even that's not going to help you if you keep beating yourself up saying "Dangit! I knew I was in The Shoulds! I keep doing that! Gah!"

What are those "beliefs" that are conditioning you to stay paralyzed? How are they holding you back? What would happen if you looked at it as if the opposite was true?

What if you shouldn't already know this by now?

What if you shouldn't offer evening appointments? What if you need to find clients who prefer your current schedule?

There is great freedom in admitting that you don't know everything.

(click to tweet)


That's the other type of "can't" we're talking about: when something really isn't possible within the understanding of human experience at this moment.

1,000 years ago, man couldn't fly or use the Internet. They hadn't been invented yet! So to tell someone to hop online and check your email would probably get you blank stares. "I can't" is an appropriate response in that case.

But the more accurate response for most anything today is "I don't know how yet."

Keep all your priorities in alignment while growing your business?

"I don't know how yet."

Make six, seven, or eight, figures (as PROFIT, not just income).

"I don't know how yet."

You get the idea.

Yes, being willing to acknowledge that you don't already know everything means there's a slight possibility that you'll be a target for ridicule. But that's rare. More often,what happens by saying "I don't know how yet" is that you open doors to new learning, new experiences, new connections, colleagues, friends - and yes, clients - by being willing to learn how.

That was the lesson my 8 year old had to learn. That yes, sometimes the mean kids will make fun of how he throws the dodge ball, but by asking for help, he'll get better at throwing the dodge ball and be able to bean the mean kids out during the game.

Perhaps that's not the best way to illustrate that lesson, but I think you understand my point. Sometimes, we need to "bean" the nay-sayers in our lives, and the only way to do that effectively is to get really good at what they're telling us we can't do.

Even if we are our own nay-sayer. Sometimes I need a good beaning, myself (just ask my husband!).

Where are you saying "can't" when you're really living in "The Shoulds? What can you do today to get clarity around a particular "should" and either decide to take action or decide to let it go? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you're ready to get help with moving out of "The Shoulds" consider a Next Steps session to help you get some clarity.