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Like any self-respecting entrepreneur, I lay awake in the early morning hours creating and regurgitating my to-do list only to overwhelm myself into a fit of anxiety over a day that has yet to start!

This morning was different, however, as I remembered a bit of so-called “meaningless” information I recently read in Sarah Knight’s book, get your sh*t together.

Sarah, who has a no-nonsense, irreverent approach to her writing, often challenges conventional wisdom or, as I like to call it, custodial wisdom or the business growth killing strategy. Custodial/conventional wisdom is wisdom that protects the status quo.

Can you think of anything more contrary — or energy killing — to the spirit of an entrepreneur? Me, either!

But, I digress . . .

The Anti To-Do List

In her most recent book, get your sh*t together…how to stop worrying about what you should do so you can finish what you need to do and start doing what you want to do, Sarah floats the contrary idea of creating a Don’t Do/Stop Doing list.

This can be very challenging — although necessary — for the typical entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs, by their very nature, have ideas that give birth to more ideas. Much like rabbits reproducing, a true entrepreneur’s mind continually spews out innovative ideas which, by the way, require some form of execution if they’re ever to see the light of day.

This explains why our bulging to-do list triggers the anxiety reflex in the most zen of us all. (Just ask Erik!)

Exhale the Angst

As I lay awake in the breaking dawn of the early morning, envisioning my mental trello board, I began moving cards from my mental to-do/doing list to the newly created don’t do/stop doing list. One by one, cards containing a plethora of activities that would challenge the most efficient and effective strategic execution system, quietly slid into place. And, as each card took its rightful place beneath the don’t do/stop doing header, my anxiety seeped away. With each slide of a don’t do/stop doing card, I exhaled the tension.

Ahhhh, finally! I actually could open my eyes knowing that I wasn’t going to be swallowed by overwhelm before the alarm went off.

You’ve Got This!

There’s something to be said about starting one’s day with business under control. Besides a stiff dose of caffeine in your coffee mug, there’s a lightness in your step and a song in your heart when a sense of “I’ve got this” permeates your being.

Speaking from my own experience of growing a 21st-century business, along with that of my coaching clients, I can emphatically affirm that the complexity of today’s business, combined with the creativity of entrepreneurial gray matter, is a lethal combination for the adrenal glands.

We are much too overwhelmed. So much so, that thinking strategically about any business initiative is almost nonexistent.

We don’t always make the best or brightest decisions when our brains are flooded with chemicals that cloud our vision and clog our neurons. Can I be so bold and brazen to call it out as it is?

It’s one of the biggest unspoken epidemic facing small business entrepreneurs.

And, like any good epidemic, we likely won’t “face the music” until it reaches a fevered pitch or, as is the case in my previous business, when a diagnosis of breast cancer sidelined me for a period of time.

One would think that such a diagnosis would be life-changing, but hard-fought habits and beliefs are tough to overcome. But, as long as I’m still in the ring — fighting for position — there’s hope and optimism that lessons can — and will — be learned.

So, back to my anxiety-reducing don’t do/stop doing list….

Let’s Do This Together

How about you? Do you have stuff, things to do, projects to complete, or ideas to spawn that are putting you into a fit of overwhelm?

Do you want to pull the covers over your head and call in sick for the day — or at least until the chest-crunching feeling of overwhelm and anxiety begin to lift?

Or, do you just need to create a don’t do/stop doing list for yourself as a reminder of what is worthy of your time and attention?

Trust me, its one of the best daily planning activities that you can undertake. And, it sure beats mindlessly poking around on Facebook to tap down the level of crushing angst that your bulging to-do list is creating within you.

Ready? Let’s begin…

Don’t do/stop doing:

  • beating myself up for what’s not getting done that is of little importance
  • worrying about what is not within my sphere of control or influence
  • comparing my business/myself to other entrepreneurs

There . . . I bet you feel better already.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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