When It Is Okay To Not Get Things Done

Published by 92 Comments

It’s raining, just after lunch time. I’m sitting in a cafe called Blackstar in West End, Brisbane Australia typing this on my macbook pro laptop.

I don’t drink coffee, but I love the smell and don’t mind an iced coffee now and then. Blackstar brew cold pressed iced drinks, including one called “Full Creamy”, which comes in what looks like a beer bottle. I don’t drink beer either, so any chance to drink something out of a bottle that looks like beer and is coffee makes me feel cool.

Full Creamy From Blackstar

For the last three weeks I have had “clear my email” listed on my to-dos. Email always falls to the bottom of priority for me because it rarely moves my business forward. Besides a few critical emails that relate to projects in development that I do attend to immediately, most emails sit in a folder that Angela my assistant marks for me. She handles my email, but some only I can attend to.

It’s quite funny how by the end of the weekend I tell myself that I will finish clearing my email on Monday, but by the next weekend there’s still plenty in there needing my attention.

A lot of the emails just need to be looked at, but not responded to. Things like launch emails with videos I might want to watch, or newsletters related to products I have bought online before, or updates from services like plugins, scripts and hosting accounts, or websites like youtube sending me recommendations.

Over the years I’ve unsubscribed from all but the most interesting things. Gmail has become very good at dealing with spam too. As a result I don’t actually get that much email. After a month of not responding to my messages I may have just a few hundred waiting for me to review. That’s pretty good.

The problem is most of the emails contain things I would really like to spend time on.

They might be training videos on how to use Facebook for marketing, or sell my products on Kindle, or other cutting edge marketing techniques.

Some of the messages are product related. I buy clothing, especially watches online and I can never get enough of looking at the latest SABA, Calibre and Country Road fashions that come into my inbox. There’s also eBay auctions, not to mention business related products like plugins for WordPress that claim to do cool things that happen to have a discount just this week only.

I could literally spend an hour on every single email, whether it’s to educate myself, to indulge in an interest or to update my technology. Of course if I did that, that would be all I do every day.

That Feeling Of Completion

The mental challenge behind all of these distractions, which I am sure you can relate to, is avoiding that feeling you are missing out on something.

I like to know that I am up to date, that when something interesting comes at me I can spend the time to properly “consume” it. Whether I buy or do not doesn’t matter, what counts is that I have spent adequate time to make myself aware of what is going on.

I like that feeling of completion, and being on top of all the content in my emails is one area where I can never possibly feel completely at ease with. That is unless I decide to ignore it all by hitting the delete button, which sometimes is the only way to get things done.

Strangely enough, if you delete your email without thoroughly examining every one, nothing bad happens.

I have a folder called “Urgent” that Angela flags the most important messages for me into. These are really the only messages that I need to deal with personally. I might accrue five of these types of messages a week at most. The rest are superfluous to what I do.

Email is only a small fragment of my tasks. There’s always work for CrankyAds, the advertising management software startup I am running with my friends Mick and Walter. I have to write blog posts and do interviews and webinars when called for. I’m also working with an editor, David, who is helping me compile my writing into new products. I have to review that work as well.

I’m coordinating with a Filipino contractor who Leslie, one of my partners in BecomeABlogger.com uses to set up his membership site areas. Her name is Myreen and she is setting up a new product area for all these products I am working on with David. I’ve been writing a sales page for the first product and working with Myreen to get it up ready to promote as well.

On top of this I still spend several hours every day with my mother in hospital and I have to coordinate a team of helpers who come in to look after her and help with exercises. This is almost like a little business in itself, which unfortunately can be a bit random because of the nature of mum’s health and the hospital system.

Plus there is exercising, my dating life, my property investments, bills, the rest of my family and all the other things that go into one’s life.

My life, while perhaps not typical, is not different than most in terms of always needing to work on something or be somewhere. We all have a bunch of things pulling us this way and that, unless we decide to opt-out from it all, which trust me, sometimes I contemplate!

Accept The Lack Of Completion

The insidious nature of this sort of lifestyle is that you run the risk of always being in a state of perpetual stress. Because there is always something to do or somewhere to be, your underlying state is one of agitation, incompletion, impatience and one that I particularly hate – feeling like you are always running late.

Even when you get stuff done, there’s still more to do, and as you do more, you create more tasks. It’s a treadmill and we all know it.

Just this week I had to remind myself that I needed to be okay with NOT getting things done.

I used to be really good at it. I could do a few tasks a day, knowing there are a lot more to do still, but as long as one or two things are done each day, that is enough. I would spend large amounts of my day on leisure activities because that was the point, you set up a business that requires not much work so you can spend the rest of your time doing whatever you want – what I call the 2 Hour Work Day.

Things have changed in recent years because my business has changed and my responsibilities have changed, but that doesn’t mean my attitude should have changed too.

A Reminder From Gwyneth Paltrow

I spend quite a bit of time in the hospital nowadays hanging out with my mother. One of the things we sometimes do together is read trashy gossip magazines, which have the appropriate amount of entertainment without any sense of seriousness, perfect reading when in hospital.

Just the other day we were reading a delightful interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, who I am sure you are familiar with. She’s not one of my favourite actors to be honest, but she did happen to respond to a question with an answer that reminded me of the need to set realistic expectations on what you can achieve each day.

Gwyneth Paltrow in a sweater

No doubt a person like Gwyneth has an incredible amount of people vying for her attention, so figuring out how to make sure she works on the important creative projects, maintains a healthy family life, fulfills commitments and does all the other important life things, would be even more of a juggle for her.

As it turns out, my buddy Gwyneth doesn’t get everything she wants done each day.

I know, a shock.

The way she responded to the question, in that sort of typical light hearted manner she exudes, you could tell that she always has more to do than she can realistically get done. As a result she just doesn’t complete everything and is okay with that.

The important point being that she’s not upset, or stressed about it, or feels like she is failing in any manner – at least as far as I can tell from reading an interview with her in a women’s magazine (gotta trust my sources!). She doesn’t feel a sense of obligation to go study some David Allen “Getting Things Done” productivity course so she can meet more of the demands placed on her by other people.

How Much Is Enough?

There’s nothing wrong with trying to increase your productivity and pack things more in each day. I wholeheartedly endorse any motivation you have to eliminate procrastination from your life so you can be more creative and get more out of your daily hours than just passive consumption.

However you have to be careful to ask yourself why, and when is enough?

Everyone comes at this from a different place. If you are struggling financially, that’s a pretty good motivation to put in the long hours and get more productive. The same can be said if you hate your job and hence want to create a business to break free.

However if you are already established or relatively content with how things are, why are you pushing so hard for more?

You have to be careful, especially as an entrepreneur, because the drive for bigger and better never ends. It’s a dangerous treadmill that some people only get off when their health fails because you have pushed too hard.

From my point of view, reminding myself that I have a great place to live, an awesome car, plenty of freedom including time every day to spend with my mother during the greatest challenge in her life, the chance to see friends during the day and work on a project together, or just sit in a cafe and type, or go for a skate in the morning, or whatever, is pretty good.

Of course you always want new challenges and to be working towards something that has meaning for you. Knowing why are you doing it and how fast you need to get there is crucial. If you are just doing it for more money, that’s not a good enough reason, unless that money is used for something productive and of value.

Clarifying how quickly you need to get a result is perhaps even more important. You have to balance that deadline-driven motivation in order to get something done, but if you are pushing so hard that every day you constantly are stressed because the to-do list only seems to grow, that’s not how to live a life.

That’s why in my life so many times I have simply just clicked the delete button.

I don’t need to read every email, or attend every event, or watch every video, or say yes to every project, or go to every party, or invest in every project or even pay attention to all of these things. What I need to do is work on the handful of things that matter to me and do just a little bit towards them each day. The rest can be ignored and forgotten.

It’s All In Your Mind

Many years ago when I first began to use CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) techniques to help deal with panic attacks, I did not realize CBT would become one of the best life skills I would ever acquire.

The main cause of much daily anguish in our western world I believe comes from using your mind to attempt to control and categorise and prioritise and just mull over all the components in your life.

If your usual outlook on life is negative, then you will spend much of this mulling time reviewing all the things that have gone wrong, are going wrong, you are not doing a good enough job at or feel like you could do better. You probably spend quite a bit of time upsetting yourself by thinking about how other people around you are succeeding where you are not too.

It’s one big mind mess. You are so full of constant worries and contemplations and ruminations about everything, you can’t possibly relax. In fact you will feel guilty if you do because you should be working towards something.

This is obviously a recipe for disaster and also decreases your productivity because you need rest in order to be productive (for more on this, see how research shows that rest is the foundation for performance).

Now to solve this problem you are going to need to make changes. Balance is key, and I believe the most important step you can make is how you THINK about it all. This is where CBT comes in.

She Dumped Me

When I was a teenager I was dumped by a girl I was with for all of three months. I was heartbroken. It was possibly one of the worst things that ever happened to me, at least from an emotional point of view. Of course most of it was fuelled by teenage angst, but that didn’t make the feelings any less real. I was hurting bad.

One of the daily torments I put myself through was constantly thinking about her. Everything would trigger a memory and most memories were tied to negative thoughts about her. For example I would look at my mobile phone and remind myself how I sent her texts and she wouldn’t reply. It was like everything triggered pain and I couldn’t escape my own thoughts.

Eventually I came to the realisation that much of my anguish was self inflicted because I chose to always think about her. I decided to change this.

My goal was to attempt to become aware of when I was thinking about her and then basically slap my brain to think about something else. I would try and stop myself from spiraling down long self-pity thought sessions about this girl.

It worked, sort of.

I did manage to at least become aware of my thought patterns and put a halt to the more negative ones. Sometimes it would take ten or twenty minutes before I caught myself doing it and it would take huge mental effort to focus on something else. As with most things it became easier with time.

This ability, which I would learn is a CBT technique, was later called upon to help deal with other negative thought patterns. I still use it today.

What was most enlightening about this process was realizing how much mental energy I spend on absolutely useless thoughts. Not only are they useless, they actually bring me down. It’s like I am attacking myself from the inside.

Relax And Support Yourself

If you take this back to the wonderful point illustrated by Gwyneth Paltrow, that you have to be okay with not getting what you want done each day, then changing how you think about what you need to get done is the first and most important step.

Don’t waste your time thinking about what you didn’t get done or how you don’t have enough time or how much is in front of you or how other people seem to get so much more done than you do. Instead first allow yourself to be content with whatever you do get done and enlist your mind as a force for support and production, in every moment.

Obviously there are many things you can work on, such as prioritization (look at the 80/20 Rule and Theory of Constraints), staying in the moment and being productive when you just feel like crap, but it all begins with how you think.

Today, while far from perfect, I am much better – and quicker- at spotting when my mind is not on the same team. When this happens I do a quick mental slap, refocus and reframe and relax so that I can do what really matters at a pace that makes life enjoyable.

Yaro Starak
Not Always Productive

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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92 Comments

  • nice, quantifying and settling article. the great thing about blogging is expressing your truth and having others find out they are ‘normal’. thanks for taking the time to do just that.

    Your mum must find you a great comfort.

    • Thanks India, I’m glad you found the article “settling”, that’s a good word for much of my personal development writing I think :-)

  • Thanks Yaro. I too like to smell of coffee but don’t like to drink it as my nervous system goes crazy. i don’t drink alcohol either so i usually enjoy a green tea in coffee shops…
    i agree with your comments that you have a to have a bigger reason than just making money.
    Life is all about increasing our understanding by expanding our ability to experience new things. New realities, points of view other than the ones familiar to us.
    a good friend of mine said this to me…life is not a physical game. The playing field is Physical but the reach is spiritual.
    Alison

    • Hi Alison, I know what you mean with coffee. I think because I rarely drink it, whenever I have something with coffee in it I really feel the buzz. It’s like I go a bit jittery, and that’s just one cup!

  • Rob

    This is also a lesson I’ve had to learn, myself. I used to push myself so hard to work that all I could achieve was exhaustion- literally wasn’t getting anywhere with the business at all!

    I still find myself doing it now, and have to force myself at the end of the day to STOP working- otherwise every day, for me, would last from about 6am to 2am (its nearly impossible to do this for a whole week- trust me)!

    I also used to drink lots of coffee, but now I get more sleep and mostly drink green tea. Its a very important point that you have to have a balance of work and relaxation- because the more rest you get, the more productive you can be. One of the hardest lessons to learn sometimes.

    Thanks for the post!

    • It looks like what you drink is coming up as a repeat subject when it comes to working too hard. I think perhaps we underestimate how much working too hard also impacts how we treat our body.

      We try to stimulate more using less than healthy options because we are pushing it beyond it’s limit, which as you say Rob is not sustainable.

  • Ann

    Thanks, Yaro, for some great reminders.

    I’m glad you are able to spend time with your mother – she’ll be appreciating it more than you know. She is lucky to have you … and just think about the “education” you are getting from all those women’s magazines!

    I used to be OK with not getting it all done then, somewhere along the way I changed. Now you reminded me again and I thank you for it.

    Cheers! I’m off to press the delete button on my emails!

    • It’s funny you mention the magazines Ann. I’ve actually started to learn which are the “good” ones in terms of content, versus the trashy ones that just focus on gossip, photos and how people’s bodies look.

      The good ones actually have really interesting articles. I found myself reading one about cyber stalking, which was an interesting look into how a specific criminal was caught and what he was able to do with other people’s computers. Compelling stuff for a web geek found in a chick’s mag!

  • I think being ok with not getting things done is a breakthrough that I recently experienced as well. I, like most people, have a lot on my plate – work, spiritual life, family, recreation, and personal development. It’s a challenge to keep it all in check…especially when ‘life’ has other plans. I have checklists and to-do lists and things that I want to accomplish in each of those areas of my life. However, you just can’t get it all done. Not every day, at least. I used to be pretty hard on myself. Now, instead of focusing on the things I didn’t get done a particular day…I list all of the things that I did accomplish…and then I feel pretty damn good.

    • That’s a nice and simple reframe Freddy, as long as you managed to do something each day of course. The glass is half full or half empty :-)

  • Hi Yaro, I think there was more to this post than the obvious title and what most would conceive as practical lessons.

    I admire the way you can weave in your personal life stories with such an honest disclosure of the things that most of us undoubtedly go through. Incidentally, it’s one of the things I’ve decided to incorporate into my blog writing because sometimes you can get fixated with delivering content and value that you hide the things that actually make you human which in and of itself, is probably more valuable.

    To the topic at hand, one of my ongoing battles is trying to work longer hours to get things off the ground so this post is even more valuable with the information you highlighted.

    Plus it’s made me realise that there’s always someone busier than me which serves as a kick up the backside sometimes!

    Nice one!

    • I’m glad it struck a cord with you Shola. I actually find it easier to weave in my own life into writing as a way to illustrate a point. Story telling is way more interesting and obviously I know my own story the best, so explaining it is easier.

      I hope you have a similar experience including your life into your writing too.

  • Good read Yaro. Off topic, but Angela said you are not looking for guest posts at this time. Will you be maybe in the near future?

    • No guest posts needed beyond the ones I already have thanks Ben. I’m trying to keep the message on song with my own personal brand right now.

      • Ben

        Cool no problem Yaro. Thanks! Any suggestion on where I could look for another site like this one? I haven’t really found any as unique as EJ.

        Thanks,

  • Olga

    THANKS for a terrific post! Always great pleasure reading your posts!

    One pertinent dimension to this is what they call in psychology Type A and Type B personalities, with Type A people being driven, always running, trying to achieve etc, whereas Type B people are relaxed, easy going etc. That’s not to say that Type B people don’t achieve things, it’s just that their way of living is different.

    For ex., I am definitely a Type B person, I am just naturally laid back, easy going and with the “whatever” mentality. I had recently a friend visiting, and she is totally a Type A person even on vacation as she was here. I could tell that my slow, relaxed attitude was starting to drive her crazy. It made me wonder to what extent people are born predisposed into these Type A and B personalities. I certainly never put any special effort into this. But then, there are clearly cultural forces at play too, as, for ex., Americans, on average, are much more driven than in other countries.

    Which brings me to another point. In Russia they have this really nice expression. It is a bit difficult to translate, but it’s something like: “A woman was living happily, care-free and worry-free, but then/until she bought a piglet.” The idea being that she was living happily, but now she has this piglet that requires daily feeding, hassle and work. The point of the expression: what for? is it worth it?

    I love this expression and in fact, it is one of my daily fundamentals for happy living. For ex., I am self-employed. I would not even for a nano-second think about getting “employees.” It doesn’t matter if I can make more money that way. I don’t want to deal with employees, to me it would be like that woman buying a piglet. [Outsourcing some tasks in small contracts is another story, I have no problem with that.] As another example, I would not even for a nano-second think about starting any “start-up,” because again it is like that woman buying a piglet. There are lots of other ways to make money (less? – that’s Ok) as self-employed anyway. Etc etc etc.

    My point is that by personal observation a lot of the stress that people experience is created by them themselves. Of course, not all. E.g., if one’s mother is sick and requires attention, that’s a whole different story. But otherwise in so many cases people create their own headaches by taking on too much or doing things they shouldn’t be doing or getting into expensive lifestyles which then keeps them awake at night about having enough money, etc :)

    Love all your writing, Yaro! :)

    • Great comment Olga, and spot on regarding hiring employees. I’m yet to get any full time employees for the same reason you state. I can also say that having a startup, you are right, if you really want to go big, you need to feed it a huge amount of your time and attention.

      I like your attitude, being relaxed is more important than making more money. If only we could all adopt this concept I think the world would be a more chilled out place.

  • Well said, Yaro.

    We are conditioned to keep doing things, because inside we feel that if we stop we will be left behind or if we stop then we are not good enough.

    I was obsessuvely focused on getting everything done and for that matter I kept on looking for better software or system that would one day finally make me the most productive I could be. I kept on searching for that magic system and always found each of them lacking in one or other things.

    I also realized over the years that I stopped running my mind, instaed I was run by it. I was taking actions based just on what I had planned a day before and was missing on integrating my intutions and insights which I used to get on the way.

    I was taking ‘programmed actions’ and checking off my to-do lists, but I was not enjoying the day even though I had ticked many things on my list.

    One day a realization occured from a spiritual point of view and I suddenly became aware that in the quest of getting things done for just my Ego to feel better I was ignoring my Soul. And then I came to terms with ‘Inspired Actions’ instead of ‘Programeed Actions’.

    I now have a system to capture my thoughts and to-dos that popup in my mind. I then organize when I am inspired to take my project forward. I then have my tasks tagged and categorized not by being in a state of lack but in a state of abundance and flow. I consciously choose to feel good about my process of organizing my stuff with the intention that it shall give more room for my creativity to emerge. I feel good in the end even though I have not completed everything on my list. Now I have a feeling that everything will be done and taken care of if I remain aligned with the source (in a spiritual sense!).

    My organizing, prioritizing and taking actions now always have a soul-check!

    Liked it very much, Yaro. Keep inspiring. :)

    • Fantastic point Dr! I’m just wrapping up an article right now about task prioritization and I mention the importance of energy flow and mood management.

      Like you wrote, becoming a robot responding to a task list, which is how some productivity systems suggest you work, is not the path to satisfaction. You really described it well when you said you allowed your brain to control you rather than the other way around.

      Ensuring that we are in flow state and experiencing pleasure as we do the task is more important than just getting it done so we can tick it off a list. At least that should be the case for the core creative role you perform that leverages your strengths and what you enjoy.

  • As I read through your post, my mind began to wonder, so what at all are we humans seeking in this world?
    My entire savings went down the drain when I wanted to acquire online. I was completely but here I find a man with a laptop but yet still not happy. Your entire life is somehow bound to some coloured papers in the name of money.
    The golden rule to success is to make others happy. So please try and make your happy. She needs you more than anyone. Anything else is secondary.

    • Hi Cudjoe,

      Your comment seemed to be missing a few words, but I think I get the jist. You are right, the most important thing we can do is help others, however you have to look after yourself as well or you won’t be physically able to help others. That’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

  • Angela

    Love this article – not just because you mention me several times, but this is one of the biggest issues in my life and lots of others around me.

    Its made worse these days by email lists that give special discounts…you feel like to you have read all the emails in case a discount is offered for something you want, but you could spend half your day on it.

    We also decided we needed to start choosing our friends more mindfully, as we don’t have enough time to spend with everyone and we need to say no to people who aren’t going to improve our life. As my husband says, your net worth when you retire will be the average of your 5 closest friends. You become what you are surrounded by so its important to spend your time with people who inspire you!

    • Sure sure Ang, you liked this article because it was all about you ;-)

      Good points, although it can be hard to “cut” friends from your life if they really want to be in it.

  • Hi – In Poland The Same Think… :)
    You are good writer…
    Best Regards From Poland

  • It was good to read the article which makes you feel normal.Even i like the smell of coffee and seldom do i indulge in drinking it.. You have definitely won a regular reader.

    • Thanks Andreas, coffee I think could become an addiction, thankfully it’s too bitter for me!

  • My inbox is always too big. I feel the need to read them all and make informed decisions about what to do with them, but I’m also nervous of deleting in case I lose something critical, ‘e-hoarding’.

    As Angela said, discounts and vouchers can be a nightmare for this! I try to unsubscribe from as many things as possible so as to reduce the pressure.

    I’ll practice some of your techniques and also try letting go, not getting stressed or pressured by those jobs.

    Sadly I’m not a coffee drinker.

    • It sounds like Groupon and all the similar sites have had a major impact on how people view their email. It would be interesting to see if the proliferation of group buying discount offers has dropped open rates on all email.

      Thanks for the comment Sue!

  • Joe

    Hi Yaro,

    Your post was perfect timing. I was about to go to bed when I saw this (nowadays checking my email is the first AND last thing I do everyday- is that healthy hmm?)
    I was starting to get a little stressed out and feeling more and more overwhelmed with setting up a blog. I am trying to outsource some things but that is stressing me out more sometimes!
    Just now I realised I am getting things done each day, it may not be everything, but its something. Youve put it back in perspective for me.
    Mindfulness and awareness helps me a lot.
    Keep up the good work. Your blog was the first one I followed and paid attention to, and the reason I am making my own one today.
    Ps. I was in Brissy recently for a medical writers conference, shouldve hit you up for that beer-coffee drink looks good!

    • Great stuff Joe, I love hearing from long time readers who have gone on to start their own blog. I’m sure checking email once in the morning and night is fine, as long as some productive tasks were completed in the time between that.

  • First, two problems – I like both beer AND coffee (and wine – I write/talk/enthuse about it for a living).

    But otherwise spot on. Have a folder on my Yahoo mail account for interesting but not important stuff called ‘For Whenever’ – sometimes I get round to looking at the stuff there, but if it’s still untouched after 2-3 weeks, I just chuck it away. It keeps my Inbox clutter-free.

    There’s a guy called Rob Parsons who talks about the myth we’ve all kidded ourselves with at some time or other that ‘a slower day is coming’ when we’ll be able to get all the stuff done. It isn’t…

    Keep up the good work Yaro – I’ve unsubscribed from many newsletters but I still look forward to yours

    • I can imagine having beer/wine/coffee as the subject of what you do for a living makes the weekdays feel like the weekend for you Simon.

      I like the point from Rob that you mention. It does often feel like the work we do today is order to change how our life is tomorrow. That’s a pretty standard way to live I think for most people, with the old “I’ll have fun when I retire” attitude being the ultimate example.

      Glad to have you still as a subscriber Simon :-)

  • Thanks Yaro:
    Your post struck a chord for me. I know that most of us seem to get the issue as you outline it but do not take immediate action until we read someone else framing the issue for us with a little more clarity. You have done that with this post. Thanks for giving. I hope your mother is well and you can enjoy your free time. As to the teenage angst, I just tell my kids to get over it..There are always many more fish in the sea and there are many fogs to kiss before you meet the prince.

    Namaste

    • Thanks for your kind feedback Rob, and I know exactly what you mean in regards to having someone else explain what you already know but haven’t acted on to finally push you to do it.

      I think many of my fellow bloggers and internet marketers are the ones to push me to action. For example I have to blame Pat Flynn for “forcing” me to finally do the P90X exercise program.

  • As I was reading the article, I kept thinking how much time I was wasting. What I got was the context that I was juggling with. It is wasting my time and it is about not being stressed about wasting time. All in all, it got it. Thanks for the creation of the duality the article created for me.

    John

    • No worries John. I hope in the end you didn’t find reading this article a waste of time!

  • I love the way you express ideas and that you always send me timely reminders what I need to concentrate at. Seems we are through similar challanges at the moment. Hope your mom improves each day!

  • Laura

    Yaro,
    I chose your e-mail to read out of the heap of ones to delete. Looks like I chose well. Learning to be okay with incompletion and missing out on something are exactly the lessons I was on the verge of contemplating today. That is what the nagging stress is. Thank you for naming it. How silly – I am only one human, so, of course, I am missing out on dozens, if not hundreds, of cool things every minute of every day. And thank goodness!! Who wants to be overwhelmed?! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • You are welcome Laura, and thank you for choosing to read my email newsletter and not deleting it :-)

  • Hey Yaro, another inspiring post.

    It’s always great to visit your blog

    Thanks
    Bilaal :)

  • This is truly great post Yaro, I liked this sentence a lot: “It’s a dangerous treadmill that some people only get off when their health fails because you have pushed too hard.”

    Sometimes it’s ok not to get things done, we shouldn’t take our health for granted. it’s the only thing that keeps us on top of the game and makes us to become workaholics.
    But We need to take a brake from time to time, I personally exercise two times a week and I don’t get things done all the way through on those days :)

    thanks for sharing

    • Spot on James. Food, sleep and exercise are one, two and three in my life, way before business objectives. That being said, I need income for food :-)

  • Hi Yaro,
    Knowing you “a little” through your writings on your blog, and as a complement to the above article, I thought you might find this interview inspiring. Catching song with Bobby McFerrin http://www.onbeing.org/program/catching-song-bobby-mcferrin/249/audio?embed=1
    As Seth Godin says about this interview “These conversations go to the heart of the sort of high-productivity work we create today, but would make no sense at all just a generation ago”

  • Nic

    Thanks Yaro! Definitely the blog I needed to read today!

  • you know that i was contact you yaro many times but i am still on the road.where the white future .ther are only the black image i want to be a freind for you but like what the proverb tell:the eyes look but the hand is litlle.

    • Ahh Abdelali, you have lost me, I do not understand your comment???

  • I am both a therapist and an entrepreneur, so I think it’s great that you frequently address mental health issues as they relate to business. I agree that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one of the most powerful tools to counteract automatic, unhelpful, illogical thoughts. I’ve even developed a user-friendly version of CBT that I use almost daily to help me overcome the “thought traps” that keep me from moving forward in my business (and other aspects of life). It’s so important for people to know that their negative thoughts and feelings don’t have to control or define them. So thanks for getting the word out on the mental health front!

    • No problem Dan, CBT or at least the “thinking” part of business has always interested me. It’s amazing how often you can see a reflection of how someone talks both out loud and to themselves reflected in their life.

      The challenge is to make sure what happens to you in life does not dictate how you think, rather you decide how you think about what happens to you in life.

  • Well timed post Yaro! First off *hugs* to your mother, may she continue to get well! It truly is amazing what one can learn from “gender” mags. I constantly need the reminder to relax, a word that is foreign to me as a Type A++. Being on the go constantly does a number on your body, whether you are “going” physically or just mentally. But it’s hard to stop even when you know you should. :)

    • I do find you Type A++ personalities quite extraordinary – I don’t know how you can ever relax!

      I find relaxing quite easy, sometimes too easy :-)

  • Excellent post, it is always about prioritizing. we have all heard about the Pareto principle. 20% actions accounts for 80% results!

  • Thought-provoking post.

    I’ve been struggling quite a bit lately with that whole underlying-stress-because-I-feel-like-I-should be-getting-more-done-even-though-I’m-already-working-10-hours-a-day feeling. : )

    A few days ago I went through some of my old journals and re-read some entries from last year. What a revelation! The way I beat myself up for not getting more done is a lifelong habit, and also, not accurate in the least. For example, last Spring I was working a full-time job during the day, a part-time job 3 nights per week, putting in about 5-10 hours a week on client work, and writing to two blogs — yet I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t getting enough done! Sheesh, just thinking about that time last year makes me exhausted.

    This is something I’m putting serious time and attention on working through, as I don’t want the stress. On the plus side, it’s self-created stress, which means I can let it go. There’s so much joy in accepting that not everything is always going to get done, and that’s OK.

    Thanks for an inspiring read!

    • You are welcome Kimberly, and wow, it sounds like your previous self was pretty darn busy. I can’t even fathom a full time job and a part time job at night. You must get so exhausted and really feel like you are spending your entire day working.

  • Well Yaro, I live in the UK now with my own business and have been getting your emails for ages now. In fact yours are some of the emails that I want to ready and spend time on but rarely do. Today however I tuned out, relaxed and read. And you know that cafe in the West End just near it was a place I was going to buy with a friend. We were both chef’s at the time. I love the West End and it was definatley a stomping ground for me in my younger days. Anyway sadly this very young and very very guy passed away from a heart defect in the night at age 26. I totally re-evaluated my life then and there. I have a stressful but very enjoyable job now. I call my company a job as it will never be more to me than a valuable life with those I love. But it does add to that life.
    Ah the West End. Cool place. One day I will get back there…and chill with some other like minded laid back Ozzies!!

    • Ahh Natalie, I’m sure West End misses you, it tends to be a place you always want to get back to.

      Whenever I am in Canada West End is, and strangely enough, the queen street mall, are the two places I miss the most. I guess growing up in Brisbane has put a stamp on me with those two places.

  • i can relate to your comments on stress.

    Its ENCOURAGING to hear others have to deal with issues regarding their mindset focus. Especially succesful bloggers like yourself.

    “”My goal was to attempt to become aware of when I was thinking about her and then basically slap my brain to think about something else.”

    My focus problem lends itself with DISTRACTING myself with everything EXCEPT what i should be doing at the moment.

    I will review your posts on CBT.

    Thanks!

    • No problem Frank, though I should say I haven’t written much about CBT. I’m sure if you google “Yaro+CBT” you will find a few from over the years.

  • Chukwuka Okwukwe Chukwuka

    Good to know it’s okay not to cut up myself when I don’t get things done – though not out of laziness.

    Your post comes off as explanatory and teach-y, Yaro. Thanks!

    P.S: I was wondering if another payment gateway has been integrated into Crankyads asides PayPal.

    Chukwuka

    • No new payment gateways yet for CrankyAds Chukwuka. Do you need alternatives because Paypal isn’t working in your country?

  • two words … intentional simplicity

    a couple more … expend the least to gain the most

    thanks for the article : ) take care!

  • Evert Furrey

    When you’te young and hard pressed to prove yourself and get ahead, this self induced pressure “to get it all done” is a daily enemy – but in time will go away when you achieve “success.” I finally reached “old ,” and the negative feeling “being behind” still haunts me as i’m still busy . Much as you’re suggesting, I’ve taught myself to accept NOT getting it all done . . . Else I would not have reached “old & busy.” Thanks for the reminder, Yaro. Excellent blog!

    • I suspect this problem impacts everyone, no matter what age you are.

      I do have one friend who has no financial obligations at all because he was born into money. He’s got a problem most people would love to have – too much free time.

      His challenge is about finding something that gives him meaning, which for the most part seems to be just “having fun” right now, but since all the people around him can’t live a life like that, he struggles sometimes to find happiness, despite the freedom.

  • kendra

    dear yaro,
    great post, i will be 51 yrs old in just a few weeks and i look ten to fifteen yrs younger according to most. so when people ask me what my secret to youth is i tell them “it is all about balance and lack of stress.” life…. is not suppose to be a constant struggle….you should never “Live to work” but “work to Live” and when it stops being fun then it’s time to check yourself and move on. YOU are the keeper of your peace ;)
    kendra

  • Cool, makes my stress levels go away already just reading your post. Have opted out of lots of annoying email lists . . . much calmer, thanks Yaro!

    • Haha, that’s good to hear Scott. If my articles do just that for you I’m pretty happy.

  • Great write up, Yaro! I feel as if I’m always missing out on something and no matter how much work I do, there is always more to do. I don’t have a ton of project’s – just a lot of work between family and my day job, and if I do not finish something I’ll start to procrastinate. lol

    I have a problem with working on projects for 20 hours straight, only to scrape them latter on when I feel as if they are not going to well. That’s a story in its own, though..

    ~Casey

    • I do find Casey that once I start getting stuff done I want to do more. It’s very much like a success ladder, that feeling of completion is addictive. The trick is taking that first step and of course, ensuring that what you are working on has meaning to you.

  • Love your work – again and always, Yaro.
    You reminded me that when I stop and think about it, yes, I am basically (mostly) content with my life right now, so why on earth am I pushing myself worse than a pharaoh?
    As a multipod, here’s to prioritising leisure just as high, or higher, than “going through the millions of offers sitting waiting for me in my inbox”. So what if I miss out on a short term discount. PS I need an Angela too, I think. Putting that one on the list.

    • Everyone needs an Angela. Maybe you should try Maren’s Zirtual.com service as a good starting point?

  • Wow, you are talking to me today Yaro!

    I’ve been stressing and struggling for years… to the point where I did have a physical breakdown and spent about a month in bed!

    Back on my feet now and am trying to get through the big to-do lists and learning to accept that it’s OK that I don’t get it all done and I’m not where I would like to be… yet. I am getting things done, a little at a time… and I’m OK with that.

    Thanks.

    • That’s great to hear Jeannie, and I’m glad this post resonated with you. You never really know when you write these blog posts if people will be bothered to read the whole thing. It’s not usually your friends who do, but people around the world that you have never met in person, so I appreciate comments like yours.

  • Kejen

    Thanks Yaro
    I just realized how I’m wasting my energy on unproductive thoughts.

  • Hello Yaro

    Your post has been good for me today as usual :)

    Before I came home I had a gorgeous coffee in the Paragon Cafe in Goulburn.

    Thinking of my business and how I can use it here now. I believe it is important to use our minds the best way we can. That negative monster who sits on our shoulder turns into a full fledged destructive critter if we don’t use the leash stop feeding it negative thoughts.The crittter will jump up and down pulling on the leash like a dog that doesn’t want to do what it is told. By hanging in there and controlling the leash – use the stop sign. Stop and think change your thoughts you can control your emotions and choose a better outcome. You may even see the sun through the skyline of the city afternoon in peak hour traffic.

    Email is a time waster at times and I flick through the ones that are useful and ignore the ones that aren’t. As a copywriter starting into the work again after a break from having my family, there are many challenges and I am ok if I don’t get everything done.

    There will always be something you want to acheive, something or someone who wants your time and attention. Its a juggling act sometimes like juggling knives instead of oranges. With time, being kinder to yourself and starting with change with you, your life will change.

    I sincerely hope your mother is on the mend with her health.

    All the best to everyone

    Susan

    • Thanks Susan. That negative monster is a tough one to shake, especially if your default world view is to walk hand in hand with it.

      I have some friends who are so inherently positive it’s disgusting, lol. They are so surprised whenever I bring up the potential negative side, you can tell they don’t even understand how you could look at things that way. They certainly represent an ideal worth striving for, and they have pretty fantastic lives as well, they have bore fruits of their attitude.

  • Yaro, I feel as though you are describing my life, right down to the panic attacks. I, too, have been battling with not beating myself up over not getting done what I think I should every day. When I was going through a particularly rough time, a friend told me, “Sheila, do your best and then the hell with it.” While this may sound a bit careless, it really is good advice. We need to be as kind and lenient with ourselves as we are with others.
    I hope your mom gets better and that you find your perfect balance. Hang in there, things will work out.

    • Thanks Sheila, and thanks for that comment from your friend too. Sometimes just a “hell with it” and then thinking about something else is how I choose to deal with certain situations too. I guess you can say we are lucky that we have free will over how we think, but of course that is fraught with danger too. It takes a while to get good at being kind to yourself.

  • Henry Daquipel

    Yaro, thank you for this article. As a full-time writer, I always find myself deluged with so many tasks every single day. After reading your article, I realized that I need to cut myself some slack. Great article and I am going to share this with my friends. Hope your mom gets better soon and take care.

    • Thanks Daquipel, and thanks for sharing this article too!

      As a fellow-writer I hope you feel good about yourself as long as you get some writing done each day. That generally works for me!

  • Pat

    Thankyou Yaro for once more hitting the nail on the head. Running around in panic circles beating yourself up for not getting everything done… it must have something to do with Puritan Guilt (I live in New England, USA and we are masters of grinding ourselves into the ground for not getting everything done.) A friend of mine, a mother of three young boys was preparing for a dinner party of twelve. Her house was in chaos. I asked her if she needed help straightening things up. She told me it was as straight as it was going to get. “I’ve done the best I can do, and that’s all I can do. My friends will just have to deal with it.” She knew how to manage well. Her house was untidy, but the food was well prepared and the kids were happy. Enough said.

  • [...] Most bloggers dont actually have to be any good at writing! Fact! if they are good at selling then just giving us the basics is often all that is needed. But Yaro Starak has got to be one of the few bloggers who actually writes really high end content. His blog posts tend to be looooonnnnnggggggg, probably the longest posts i actually read. This week Yaro is blogging about When It Is Okay To Not Get Things Done. [...]

  • I used to panic a bit when I didnt do things, but right now I just move them forward day or two. On the other hand world is not gonna end if I don’t add new post today ;) Best regards!

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