How to do anything, but not everything

By Clara Wilcox

I transform the lives and careers of parents through coaching. Empower you to make some calculated risks and be exactly who you want to be. I want to help you find ways to make your life more fun-filled and fulfilled.

Great, right. How many people would love to take this next leap in life, but just feel like they haven’t got the mental headspace thanks to the endless to-do lists, chores and responsibilities, to even start working on themselves?

I had drafted out this article (which always starts in my mind, progresses on paper and finishes on screen) to be my “tops tips” on how manage everything that comes with the multitude of roles we all hold. Parent, Partner, Sibling, Friend, Manager, Colleague … the list goes on.  However, as I wrote, this quote kept echoing around my head


“You can do anything, but not everything” (Dave Allen)


So, instead this article is a battle-cry of STOP!

A request to slow down and consider the pressure you are putting on yourself. All the expectations of perfection, of daily completion, of others first.

I am going to ask two things of you; firstly, take ten minutes out of your day to do the next exercise.

Secondly, reflect on what you discover. The top tips list of how I am navigating my way through life as a working parent will come; but first things first!

The Clock

Mark out 24-hours please. Anyway you feel drawn to. For me, this was two clocks, morning and afternoon, for others a list of 24 hour blocks. Start and finish at midnight. One full-day.

Visualise your typical day; what do you do, what are you feeling, what do you see around you?

Now, with this typical day in mind, start blocking off the time you usually sleep: eat:  commute or travel. Block out the time for wellbeing commitments (I am hoping that includes some time to eat and be active!)

Now, put the clock to one side.

The list

If you are like me, your to-do list has a life of its own, always growing in your mind.

Jot down all the things you would expect to do in a typical day. Your usual tasks and responsibilities: work, clients, activities, kids, home; you know your day better than anyone else.

Review the list, anything else you would expect yourself to do on a typical day that would be completed by bedtime?

The time

Now, grab that list and with a different coloured pen, mark the time it would take to achieve or complete each part of your daily to-do list. How many hours does this add up to?

Crunch time

Look at your time that you have available to you when you are not looking after yourself or others: when you are not eating, sleeping, travelling. How much time do you have in your day? How much are you expecting to achieve – to complete, finish and walk away from?

Are you being fair on yourself? Are you able to EVER complete what you are setting yourself on a daily basis?

I once had a client do this, and she found she was expecting herself to do 12 hours’ worth of activities in an eight hour window.


You need to consider what is achievable within each 24-hour period without sacrificing your own well-being.

Take Control

I want you to ask yourself these questions when you consider what you have coming up in the next week:

  • Do I need to do it today?
  • Do I need to complete it today? What does “enough” look like or feel like?
  • Who else could do this instead of me?
  • Does it actually need to be done at all?


Be gentle on yourself, you are already doing more than enough!


Clara Wilcox runs The Balance Collective. She is a mum of two with over a decade’s experience in recruitment and coaching. She offers career and return to work coaching for parents and flexible working consultancy and workshops for businesses, and is on the forum this week where you can ask her for bespoke advice.