Question from a reader -
I wanted to hear your advice on a problem that I've been experiencing when it comes to work. I noticed that because I'm involved in 4-5 large-scale projects that are each independently time consuming and require high-energy input, I feel like my attention is diluted and I'm only a B-player on each of these projects. If I were to drop all but 1, I know I can be an AA+ player on it, but all of these things matter to me and I want to be an AA+ player on all of them.
I noticed in your blogs & videos you mention that you are very involved in a multiplicity of projects -- I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to go from having attention dilution on multiple projects to being able to execute on them all incredibly well.
No problem if you are busy, but I'd really appreciate your feedback.
Well, there's upside and there's downside to having too many things going on.
1. "If you want something done, give it to a busy person."
By having too much going on, you're forced to cut to the chase, move faster, make decisions quickly, not dwell/stew on things.
If you're booked end-to-end, you don't get stuck in a no-movement rut. It's too easy to start the day by surfing the net if you have "only two hours of stuff to do" and still have... two hours of stuff to do when 10PM rolls around.
I'm always amazed at how the lessons from one project cross-transfer... marketing, ops, whatever. One technological gain in one sphere might transfer over to 2 or 3 other projects. You can bring lots of wins that way.
I'm not a details person. I hastily wrote a contract that hosed me a while back. I paid a couple contractors where I didn't get all deliverables beforehand, and never got them. I just rented a bedroom to a couple of artists and there weren't cleans sheets and we had to buy new ones. Things like that. It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it generates low level neurosis constantly.
2. The feeling of, "If I had less to do, I could get more done on the one thing!"
But I think it's just that -- a feeling. I think you about max out on really good ideas on a given project, and need more calendar time to pass to come up with great stuff. Generally speaking, for creative work, I doubt you could actually produce much more, so this is really a feeling more than anything.
3. Emulation/setting-a-bad-pace for partners.
This one's the worst. I've got too many things on the go. So sometimes, people who admire me or work with me try to emulate that, without the underlying foundation, and then things get screwed up for them. I've got intense underlying training on the numbers/fundamentals, so even if I'm not seemingly paying attention to it, I can ballpark pretty well.
4. Not enough downtime.
Legitimately a bad thing.
What To Do About It...
1. "Get things off your head" with suitable outcomes. Just do anything so you can forget about it.
2. Invest in getting rid of recurring tasks. Get a maid, use technology, etc.
3. Do occasionally cut a project.
4. Sacrifice some profits to gain time back. (Many ways to do this.)
5. Remind yourself that you chose this path, and you can always unchoose it. The "stuck" feeling is the worst, but you're never really stuck. Yes, there's consequences if you cut something, but knowing you could cuts the trapped feeling. Remember -- it's a choice you made.
That said, I am winding down a few campaigns right now, consolidating, etc. Also, while this might not be for everyone, the occasional brothel visit, fistfight, trip to the firearms range, and other adrenalin-generating activity is quite helpful at sustaining the pace.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Good points being brought up.
Your 3rd downside point was about unprepared people emulating you without grasping the fundamentals. In your opinion, what are these fundamentals?
I would love to assess how close I am to having them and executing well across the board.
"Also, while this might not be for everyone, the occasional brothel visit, fistfight, trip to the firearms range, and other adrenalin-generating activity is quite helpful at sustaining the pace."
And that's why Seb Marsh is my favorite blogger :D
Question from a reader -
One thing that I'm wondering, and figured that I should send before I go to sleep and forget it... For certain kinds of tasks (having discussions about more abstract goal things, writing emails to friends, commenting on LW, etc.) I'm really motivated, and need to be restrained from doing them.
With other tasks, I'm nowhere near as motivated, and have trouble starting them. Since I'm still a student, not doing this kind of work just isn't an option.
In the long term, I'm hoping to just do more of the things I'm motivated for, and fewer of the ones I'm not. I'm willing to buckle down and do work in subjects that I'm less motivated for if I see how it clearly relates to my goals (last year I spent a few hours trying to work out the geometry kinks for a robot part -- it was a mess).
Right now, I'm just reminding myself that its really not hard once I start it, and that it goes quickly if I just do it.
I know that a lot of people's favorite posts are the self improvement ones. They're the most gratifying to write, and also to read the comments on.
I'd write more of them, but I hate writing them unless I feel like I'm really exemplifying the topic. Otherwise it's disingenuous. My worst nightmare would be for this site to turn into one of those other "personal development" blogs, 99% of which are written by people whose lives are not particularly outstanding, that churn out productivity porn every day.
"Ten new ways to organize your todo list!"