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Attack of the Killer “Shoulds”

Attack of the Killer “Shoulds”

Productivity and Goal Setting-Attack of the Killer Shoulds

There are lots of things I should do: floss twice a day, make a healthy lunch, only check my emails twice a day. You get the picture.

I can get completely overwhelmed by the shoulds—to the point where I’m paralyzed. They can make things feel overwhelmingly complicated.

What does a should sound like? I should:

  • Go back thru my database since the beginning of time and recategorize all my donors
  • Create a master policy for all sponsorship dollars that reflects all the nuances of our sponsors…since the policy’s inception
  • Have 20 exploratory meetings with prospective board members…this month!

These are all things you SHOULD do. But do you need to do them right now? Is it more important than raising money, inspiring your staff and furthering your mission? Maybe not right now.

When a “should” comes through your brain, do this. Ask the should “Do you need to be done right now? Is this going to directly affect my ability to do my job today, or can I book time in my schedule next week to undertake this task? Does it warrant blocking time in my calendar?”

Then listen to the answer:

  • Yes, it’s important. Great! So, book it in the calendar and be done with it.
  • No, it’s not really that important. Dump it somewhere to leave it for later.

Write out a should list that sits in your top right drawer. Add things as they come into your brain. You’re not ignoring them, you’re just allocating the appropriate amount of energy to the activity. If you don’t need to drop everything and do it now, then don’t.



All tasks are not created equal. If you’re swamped by “shoulds,” then send them packing . . . to your should list (and not your to-do list).