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10 Things I Don’t Do Every Day (& Why I Think That’s Okay)

Reading time: 10 min.

The past few week I spent getting the Ashlyn Writes Shop launched—the first big to-do in my Simplified Planner after August’s sabbatical—I wrote my heart out for two guides in the shop’s Stewardship Series: one for ordering your time & productivity and the other for ordering your goals & plans.

Sabbatical and intense time putting on paper how I actually order my dreams and plans? My, my was it insightful.

It taught me that during those seasons where life feels too busy, too full, too crowded, then maybe … just maybe … it’s time to stand firm on the things you won’t do: the things that aren’t allowed to lie to you, and the things that aren’t allowed to eat up sacred brain space.

Like my friend Valerie of Val Marie Paper says, “Guess what? Jesus disappointed people, too.” The reality is that we’re not commanded to live a life where we sweetly please everyone that falls across our path.

What!? I know—it’s tough for me to remember, too!

We’re not commanded to live a life where we sweetly please everyone that falls across our path. Click To Tweet

My heart in writing this list of things I don’t do is that you’ll see bits of brokenness on the internet. I know we can post on Instagram about our imperfections and slights, but finding and reading Valerie’s post “I Don’t Do It All (& Why You Shouldn’t Either)” inspired me: From this list, I pray you’ll get a pink slip escape from the overwhelm of thinking I’m just another girl on the internet that “does it all.” I’m not. I’m broken and I’m messy … but standing firm on the things I don’t do has given me space for the things that are important to me.

Here’s a list of random, scattered things I stand by not doing—I hope these give you insight into my world, inspire your own list, and help remind you that nope … you sure as heck don’t have to be the girl that does it all.

1. I don’t aim for 100% productivity at all times … more like 85%.

Yup—I may always talk about business productivity, time management, and goal setting … but I do NOT shoot for 100% batting averages with productivity! Trying for that? Pssh—it’d make me plum miserable.

Instead, I’m a big fan of productivity fasts. Sabbaticals, plan-less Saturdays, time wasted on Netflix, chunking the Simplified Planner to-do list, white-outing goals that just aren’t working … bring it on.

One of my favorite activities in eating disorder recovery was when a therapist passed out a rebellion list one day. “Okay—let’s practice healthy rebellion and come up with ideas you can do instead of lean into your eating disorder symptoms,” she said. We spent the next half hour with Crayola markers poised in groups scribbling down dozens of ideas, things like:

  • Blare your music with the windows down and drive the long way.
  • Follow your passion rather than your expectation.
  • Wallow in creativity.
  • Give yourself bandwidth to play.

If those things are “unproductive,” sign me up.

Solution: Take a productivity fast if you’re prone to Type-A, achievement-oriented work. Plan a sabbatical month and financially map it out (read my post here on how I did that). Take digital detoxes weekly … more on that below. 🙂

2. I don’t go get my nails done.

Unsure as to if calligraphy made my hands steady or steady hands attracted me to calligraphy—it was all to early and a blur. Whatever the case, I’ve got a knack for painting my own nails … and a huuuuuuge aversion to inefficiency. For some reason, if I ever DO book pampering time at the nail salon, I while away the entire hour staring at the clock, jiggling my foot. I find it (personally, no judgement should you adore it as my best friend does) a colossal waste of time.

Oh … with an exception: friend dates. Those always get on the Simplified Planner calendar, because it’s a two-birds-one-stone moment—we gab, and I get freshly painted “Splash of Grenadine” nails.


Solution: If you love to pamper yourself with getting your nails done? By all means, plan it in. If you don’t? DIY away, because drying nails are tailor made for hours in front of a computer. Oh—and my nails are usually done, and last, thanks to these two products: this CND sticky base coat and this Seche Vite quick-drying-hard-as-a-rock top coat.

3. I don’t volunteer a ton.

I worried about putting this down, but let me explain. My husband’s the type that will wait 3 hours to tell me he turned the car around, stopped at an ATM, and gave the family passing out water bottles on our interstate exit a wad of fifties … I mean, he waited THREE HOURS after we were hanging out together to bring it up.

Pretty sure I want the world to know immediately when I like, tip the Publix cart guy $5.

Ah, perspective.

I learn a lot from my husband about giving and what generosity in action actually looks like.

For right now in our season, giving is looking like being open-handed with finances, something we seem to have more of than white space these days. Alongside church and friend/community commitments, that’s just what’s on our radar these days. We see this business as a ministry, too, and it definitely fills up a lot of our (my!) time, and Ashlyn Writes donates primarily to two organizations. I know seasons will change, but just keep remember that generosity can look different for whatever gifts and talents you’ve been specfically given … in case you’re also the type to guilt yourself for not spending every Wednesday night tutoring a child at the charter school down the road … you’re not alone.

4. I don’t get dressed in real clothes every day.

If you count a put-together workout clothes outfit, complete with sneakers, W3LL People mascara, Batiste dry shampoo, and a bit of Beauty Counter tinted moisturizer, I do.

Otherwise, I only put on “real” clothes on days I record video content, have a lunch date, or have a slew of client calls—which I batch.


Nancy Ray Photography

Photo by Nancy Ray Photography

5. I don’t cook much.

When I heard Corrie Roberts tell Lara Casey in a webinar she doesn’t cook, and then two weeks later watched my friend and client Katelyn James say something similar, I breathed a sigh of relief. To be frank, it’s one of the biggest lessons I’m learning as I wrestle with loving being a wife and falling hard for my ministry as a business owner: I’m ever ping-ponging between days of feeling insuffiencit as a homemaker and business owner, constantly battling lies about how I can’t do both well.

There are so many evenings I wrap up work, walk into the kitchen, and immediately shame myself for not having a beautifully planned meal calendar stuck on the fridge with all the ingredients ready … and yet again, we hit our taco joint for nourishment.

Solution: We love HelloFresh when we can, fitting eating out into our Blueprint Method spending plan, and leaning on Wes to cook a lot, which he does a great job at. 🙂

Oh—and want $20 off your first HelloFresh box? Enter “ASHCART” at checkout, and it’s all yours!

6. I don’t read a ton of news.

Wes and I decided that if my head is Google and you search news stories, there are a lot of results that come up you can’t click on—there’s just not enough info. Oopsadaisy. I do read The Skimm every day, and just subscribed us to a hard-copy paper delivery—my favorite way to inhale news tidbits, since that’s how I grew up consuming news.

A former journalism/poli-sci major, I think after years of inhaling political journalism, I got a tish jaded, plus, I’m a Tim Ferris fan, and he’s an advocate of skipping out on some news consumption (read this recap from Huffington Post to see what I mean).

I do believe there’s a happy medium however … working on it!

7. I don’t answer all my messages every day.

Nobly I mapped out a New Year’s Resolution in my Powersheets to answer all the day’s texts by bedtime. It’s September, and that’s never happened. Not even close.

With texts, voicemails, Instagram direct messages, Facebook direct messages, emails to 3 different inboxes, Twitter direct messages, not to mention Instagram/Twitter/Facebook comments … you could spend your whole day just answering messages, I’m convinced—because as soon as you hit inbox zero, the messages you sent start getting messages back again.

This one’s tough for me, but bit by bit, I’ve learned that it’s okay if I can get every single messaging box to inbox zero in a day—or even a week.

“I honestly just don’t answer personal Facebook messages or friend requests at all,” Facebook expert Courtney Foster-Donahue surprised me by saying to me yesterday. Girlfriend’s an FB expert and teacher—I just figured she answered all those messages! “I feel like it’s a better use of my time to serve my students and those taking the time to send me a note via email.” Nice.

Over time, I’ve learned to just let go of that red notification dot. Get to what I can, major on the major: take care of my husband, my family, and my very best friends first, and then move on.

8. I don’t post on Instagram every day.

Friend, feel some freedom in here if you’re a creative entrepreneur or business owner. Our business strategist and financial coach Shanna Skidmore (click here to be first to know when her Blueprint Method financial program opens—I’ll be coaching a few creatives through it!) is on a year-long hiatus from Instagram, and her business has grown. I’m not advocating you should quit Instagram: If anything, I think Instagram is a smart tool and fantastic way to serve people.


If I could go back, I’d tell my earlier creativepreneur self that it’s possible to match, surpass, and then triple your corporate salary … all with a follower count of under 7K and spending hours a day trying to grow your Instagram following—because OH, how I concentrated on trying (read: STRESSING TO THE MAX) over having the perfect grid, perfect photos, and perfect caption at the perfect time according to analytics!

Ugh. Those were NOT the days!

Solution: If you’ve followed my business blogs and Facebook Live Show, you likely know about my #marketingmondays—I batch out all my content in one day, so I don’t have to worry about it during the week! I’m also a big fan of phone-free weekends (or at least one mostly phone detox day a weekend).

9. I don’t schedule lots of coffee dates (or go on more than 2 a month) or networking events into my Simplified Planner.

I want to be careful with this for fear of not sounding like I believe people are a smart investment of time. They are—and I’d argue that people are the most important investment of our time.

People are the most important investment of our time. Click To Tweet

However, a recovering “yes” girl, my mouth tends to commit to things and pencil them in my Simplified Planner before my eyes have glanced inward to assess what my margin truly looks like.

If we don’t tell our time what we’re doing with it, someone else will.

I would like to add that then your husband and/or best friends then remind you they haven’t spent time with you in a while.

What to do before a creative conference - tips I do before every event by Ashlyn Carter - Trouvaille Workshop

Photo by Samantha Jones Photography

“Virtual coffee dates” entered into my periphery when I first joined the creative industry workforce, alongside in-person lunch dates and coffee dates. Shrewd building blocks when you lack the client load or business roadmap, I think they serve their purpose for a time!

However, I honestly feel like you need to hit a point as a business owner where you cap these: coffee dates feel like work, but they’re not REALLY work, I’d argue. They’re fun, refreshing, community-driven—but from a business standpoint, my ministry (not to mention the bottom line of the business, my responsibility) is to steward my time, plotting it out in my Simplified Planner where it will make the MOST impact, and—at least for me—I’ve found that means a lot of focus on plotting out days and times so I can get off my computer and get face-to-face time with Jesus, Wes, our families, my circle of very best friends, our couple friends/local community, and myself (self-care!).

I’m sure there will be a time where I get back into networking events, but I don’t really do those either … I guess as a former publicist I’ve gotten burnt out … that, or jaded since I used to be the one planning them! ????

If we don’t tell our time what we’re doing with it, someone else will. Click To Tweet

Solution: I have 2 time slots a month for in-person coffee dates or lunch dates with younger girls, acquaintances, or business friends that don’t fall into BFF territory (close friends don’t fall into all this!). Exceptions do come up, but they’re usually on Fridays, and when they’re full, they’re full. And that’s ok.

10. I don’t finish everything on my to-do list ever.

Um, yeah … ever. I’m obsessed with my Emily Ley Simplified Planner for keeping day grace-filled and full of all the white space.

Simplified Planner by Emily Ley - Things I don't do by Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes

There aren’t a ton of boxes to check-off, there are 4 pre-filled to-do’s on Sunday:

Plan meals for the week ahead.

Tidy up for a clean slate on Monday.

Write tasks/appointments for the week.

Fill your tank and enjoy what matters most.

Now those, I can get behind. What I don’t finish in a day gets an arrow to the next day (my whole goals & planning guide is written up in this guide from The Stewardship Series—click here to shop). I posted my complete Powersheets and Emily Ley work-around over here, if you want to set up yours the same way!

So, that’s my hot list of items I’m pretty confident and proud to say I don’t do. What I DO do? Well that goes in the Simplified Planner, of course. I just ordered my Simplified Planner for 2018 and I’m beside myself to start filling up my next year’s planner with washi taped time blocks and meaningful to-do’s.

Emily’s almost sold-out of the 2018 planners already, so click here to shop the Simplified Planner collection!

Reading Time: 10 Minutes Reading time: 10 min. The past few week I spent getting the Ashlyn Writes Shop launched—the first big to-do in my Simplified Planner after August’s sabbatical—I wrote my heart out for two guides in the shop’s Stewardship Series: one for ordering your time & productivity and the other for ordering your goals & plans. Sabbatical […]


comments +

  1. Cari Nadeau says:

    I love this article, Ashlyn! The online biz space is so full of people who seem ‘perfect’ but it’s never so. We’re all muddling through in our own way. Thanks for being real!

  2. Erika says:

    I loved reading this post and I LOVED #9. I see so many scrambling to schedule meet ups, coffee dates and happy hours because they feel like it’s something they have to do in order to be somebody. Time is precious and as I move into entrepreneurship, I pray I am able to prioritize the core relationships in my life.

    • Oh, Erika, that is the best thing you could say. I definitely think it’s an entrepreneurship lie that it’s “wrong” or that you’ll be “behind” if you say no to coffee dates. I believe that for a while, and it’s simply not true. We should value and steward our time just as much as our finances—-so glad to hear about your focus on core relationships … that’s encouragement to me, too!

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