After reading the following words by David Allen, do you feel disappointment or relief?

My first reaction was relief — relief in the realization that it is not possible or realistic to get everything done. There will always be stuff on your to-do list and always projects that don’t get done. Accepting this reality is the first step to creating the life of stress-free productivity that Allen invites us to have.

I’m a mother, a coach, a trainer, a blogger, an author, and a huge tennis fan, so this month my time is tight (Wimbledon season). Time is always tight for most of us; deciding what to focus our limited time on is the issue. So the question is this:

How do we identify what is the “Anything” that we want in our lives, and what bits are the “Everything” — the things that can be removed from your lists of goals and to-dos?

1. Single Focus

The Happier Human blog has described human beings as “failure machines”. We are irrationally optimistic. We naively keep setting the same goals and not achieving them.

Does this sound familiar?

Although I thought the failure machine reference was a bit harsh, there is a point here to be made. Are you consistently attempting too much, or trying to do everything (and achieve everything) now, when this is not humanly possible?

Chose your single focus – something that you are passionate about, something that will make a difference to all areas of your life if you were to achieve it…and stick with it.

2. Delete and Dump

Eliminate all the things in your life that are unnecessary. Declutter your house, go room to room removing all the things you no longer need. Stop activities that don’t add value to your life. Do an audit of all the time spent on television, the Internet or any other activity that is not life-enhancing. By creating awareness around how much time you spend on these things you will soon want to get rid of the dead wood. Delete unwanted files and emails from your computer. By doing all of this you will free up time and space to focus your time and attention on your goals, priorities and the important people in your life.

3. Get a Man!

Maybe you just need a man. A fellow coach once told me his elderly neighbour once suggested that what he needed was a man. Not for companionship, but to do chores around the house.

Her philosophy was “only do what only you can do”. Get someone else to mow the lawn, clean the car, wash the windows, do your accounting. Any job that takes your attention away from what you do best. (I think I am going to go and get myself several — I hope my husband doesn’t mind!)

4. Assert yourself

Say “no” to tasks and work that will overload you. It is always great to do your bit for charity, a community group, or your child’s school but only say “yes” if you have extra time to commit to it.

I believe there is a time in all of our lives to do our bit, but maybe now is not your time. If it is not your time don’t feel guilty about turning people down. Explain that in your current circumstances you cannot commit your time, smile, and walk away.

5. Believe you Can

I have been doing some work recently with young women who have zero self-belief. I believe that have been raised in a negative world where not being able to do something has become the norm in their lives. They are so conditioned to fail that they won’t even try.

It’s a difficult job, but little by little with encouragement, support and positive reinforcement, their “I can’t” will change to “I will try” and eventually to “I can”. Positivity can be thought, optimism introduced and self belief nurtured.

When it comes down to it, we all know that David Allen’s words are true. You really can do anything in this world — but only if you believe you can.

(Photo credit: Word Impossible Transformed via Shutterstock)

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