Let’s just be real with each other for a moment. We cannot do it all. We certainly cannot do it all during this time. We thought we were doing it all before, but we weren’t. And yet, the expectation is present. The routines that we had down, the things we had planned, none of those are happening now. Everyone is home, social distancing from others, and curbside pickup is the norm, telework has become a real thing (I mean it really could have been for a while now).
Our lives have changed. Even when we return to “normal” life, we still can’t do it all. Why do we try? Rachel Hollis writes about this very same issue in her book Girl Wash Your Face. Rachel Hollis even writes that after she explains to people that she has a lot of help, people are still emailing her, asking her how she does it all. Why have we convinced ourselves and each other that we can do it all? That we can have it all?
I think it’s because we are afraid. We are so scared to let one of those things fall. Or that we will fail at one or many of them. It is that fear and the lies that we tell ourselves that is the glue that keeps the fear sticking to us. The fear perpetuates the belief that we can do everything because if one of us admits that they can’t do it all, then that means that the rest of us can’t do it, and that means that none of us can do it all. Or in the case of Girl Wash Your Face, we deny that person who says they don’t do it all. Then where are we? We begin to realize that we think we are accomplishing so much, but we aren’t. We are getting less done when we live amid a swirling tornado of activity.
Now, we are in a time that one swirling tornado became multiple swirling tornadoes. Our lives have turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Life has gotten more challenging, and we are still trying to juggle a multitude of things. Heck, we lie to ourselves about what we can accomplish in one day, one hour, and so on. It never stops. The lies, fueled by the fear of admitting…defeat? Because we think we can do the impossible? And yet, faced with the truth, we still believe we can get it all done. Fear is a powerful force.
In Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing, one of the lies that we tell ourselves is multitasking. I believe that it is the biggest one. When was the last time you tried to do two things at once? I am not talking about walking and chewing gum, either. I mean accomplishing two tasks simultaneously? It is not humanly possible. Computers can’t even do that. Although computers process things so quickly that it seems like they are, they are not. Everything that a computer does is consecutive.
Everything that we do should be sequential. One task builds on the next, and so on. If everything is sequential or should be, how do we adjust for that? We need to prioritize, that’s how. To do that, you need to narrow down your focus to your one thing that you need to get done that day. Get that done and then move onto the next. You do not get to move on until you complete the first task.
Narrower your focus is not easy. It wasn’t easy before, and it is not easy now. Our lives have so many distractions that maintaining focus to get that one thing done feels impossible. It isn’t. I promise. When you do that, you will feel so much better about your day. You will be able to say that you accomplished something, and that feels awesome.
When I started narrowing my focus, I felt like I wasn’t going big enough. I thought that to make significant gains in my personal and business world, that I had to have big tasks. Which is another lie we tell ourselves, go big or go home, right? Wrong. To accomplish big things, you need to gain focus. I mean microscopic focus. If you think it is too small, you are on the right track. Have a big goal and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. It took me a long time to learn how to narrow my focus. I still have to work on it every single day.
I am okay that I don’t get everything done. I am okay that I am not perfect. No one can get everything done, and no one is perfect. The pressures put on every one of us to be perfect are real. We are the worse perpetrators to ourselves. Perfection is not a lie included in The One Thing, but it should be.
I still struggle with that little voice in my head that tells me I can do it all. I have to say to that voice to shut it. I am not gentle about it, even though it is my own voice. Luckily I yell at myself in my mind. Otherwise, the volume and anger that came through would raise a few eyebrows. I, for one, am tired of beating myself up, of feeling run-down, and angry. Join me in hopping off the hamster wheel of multitasking perfection. Let’s stop the cycle together.