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Turns Out, You *Can’t* Do it All—So How Do You Pick?

In: Productive Mother

You know who's funny? People who try to do everything.

Talk about a dysfunctional relationship with time. Contrary to popular opinion, time is not always there for you when you need it.

Yet, then you are all cute, telling yourself you'll just “fit it in”—whatever “it” might be that day. Why does everyone think they'll fit it in? Nobody ever fits it in. You know what you fit in? About two or three things a day, max. That's it. That's the limit. Even if you technically have more time in the day, eventually your brain does that thing where it just says “piss off, Harry” and throws in the towel.

But, you know, it's hard because we humans have good intentions. We want to say yes to exciting opportunities. We don't want to miss out on anything. Remember a hundred years ago when you were in college and you wouldn't have dared to miss a Friday night out? (Imagine! all the things! they'll do! without you!)

Well, you don't give a turkey's foot about the bar anymore, but that dread of missing out still haunts you—except now it's dressed as a giant, oversized dollar sign waving itself around as it dances in circles around you chanting, “I'm a good opportunity! I'm a good opportunity!” (Mirages can be such smug jerks.)

And so temptation overcomes us. We don't want to miss out; don't want to regret. Because what if?!?! So we join hands with every good opportunity that comes our way, and we try and we try and we try to fit it all in. Andddddd that's the moment everything comes crashing down around us.

I used to be that person; one of those people who tried to do everything.

In fact, at one point, I even started making myself smaller—showing up less in the world and keeping quiet—as a way of minimizing all the opportunities that were coming my way. I was having trouble keeping up with getting bigger, better, more influential, because the more I grew my career, the more demands were placed upon me. Attractive demands. Demands on my time, my attention. Demands that were some of the best opportunities I'd ever had.

Then one day, I clicked in my inbox and found myself cringing. Cringing at interview requests. Cringing at speaker requests. Cringing at new client inquiries. Cringing at things that I should have been elated to have.

So I took a step back and asked myself, “Why the resentment?” And once I had a long, wine-soaked heart-to-heart with myself, realized that it was because I was pissed off that I was too busy. I couldn't just “fit it in” anymore. My strategy of stuffing as much into my life no longer worked. My strategy of becoming smaller so I'd have less to stuff in no longer worked. Because I didn't have a strategy—I had a band-aid. And that band-aid was leaking gross, disgusting, crusty blood all over the floor.

The thing about the internet is that we're surrounded by new opportunities every single day—good opportunities.

It's not always easy to pick.

In fact, you won't want to pick.

But you have to.

So the question becomes: How? How do you pick from a sea of fantastic? 

My answer:

Pick what'll still be fantastic five years from now. Leave what'll only be fantastic for five weeks.

Some people call that “long-term thinking”; I call it, “How to make sure you're not being a spontaneous little flitty airhead.”

  • Writing the book gets categorized under “five years.”
  • Partnering with clients you respect and are excited to work with—”five years.”
  • Building something that'll outlive all of us—”five years.”
  • Spending the time to make your business more scalable so it can run without you—”five years.”

Things that might only be five weeks?

  • Shuffling twenty different one-off clients through the door.
  • Getting wrapped up in a cyclone of non-stop 1:1 hourly work.
  • Becoming a professional inbox zero hero. (God forbid.)
  • __________________ <—What's the thing you know you shouldn't be doing that you're resenting?

You might be in business for yourself to pay the bills, but there's a difference between being “in business” and “having a business.” One ensures you get paid today. The other ensures you'll keep getting paid tomorrow.

So while it might be tempting to “fit it all in,” turns out we don't need to fit everything in—just the right things.

Half the battle is just figuring out what those are.

Jul 2


Turns Out, You *Can’t* Do it All—So How Do You Pick?

Jul 2, 2015

You know who’s funny? People who try to do everything. Talk about a dysfunctional relationship with time. Contrary to popular opinion, time is not always there for you when you need it. Yet, then you are all cute, telling yourself you’ll just “fit it in”—whatever “it” might be that day. Why does everyone think they’ll fit it in? […]

In: Productive Mother


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Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?

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I wrote today’s tip earlier today about copywriting. It was pretty fucking good, actually. I might have even made a joke about ham. But then I stalled. I hated the tip. The tip was useful, for sure. The tip was original, most definitely. And the tip was something that some people might have even printed […]

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The Answer To: “Where Do You Get The TIME?!?!”

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Me: I’m writing a book! People: Where do you get the TIME? Me: Every morning! People: WHERE DO YOU GET THE TIIIIIMMEEEEEEE?! Me: It’s in my schedule. Every morning, from 5am to 8am. People: But I could never cooooommmmmiiiiiittttttt to thaaaaatttttttt. Me: So what do you do when you have a client that needs something, […]

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We Are Overthinking EVERYTHING

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We’ve all got these really exhausting mental scripts we tell ourselves. For example, earlier today I was telling myself I was going to exercise, but then I told myself that, well, maybe notttttt, because I had something heavy for lunccchhhh, so I probably wouldn’t have the energggggy, and then it’d be harder than usuaaaal, and […]

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Be Selective With Your Energy. In Fact, Be Downright Arrogant.

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I’ve stopped checking my emails every day. Before that, I shut down my Behind Closed Doors program. And this past Saturday night out with the girls? I drank…sparkling water. Yet, I can confidently confirm that I am not pregnant, suicidal, dying of cancer (at the moment, anyway) or just having such great sex that I […]

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You’re always going to have fifty million things to do—PLUS that asshole’s bar mitzvah.

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There’s a lot of pressure these days to be perfect. (Says the girl carrying thirty extra pounds and a dysfunctional pouty face.) As someone who used to be very all-or-nothing, over the years I’ve had to make some major peace with the fact that all-or-nothing is a gigantic, sweaty faced fool’s errand. :: How many times have you thought about […]

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The 140 Character Email: An Experiment in Sanity

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You know the email. The one you’re dreading responding to—not because of what it says, but because the second you open it, all you see is A GIANT, LOOMING TSUNAMI OF TEXT lurching at your face as if the sender had taken the entire Sunday edition of The New York Times, reformatted it into one […]

In: Productive Mother


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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