What If You Had Time to Do Everything?
Recently, I’d been feeling behind on everything. I tend to have a lot of projects, and when I get stuck on one, the whole machine grinds to a halt as I hyperfocus on fixing it.
I can’t work on my novel till I catch up on research, and I can’t blog till I’ve had a chance to work on my novel, and I can’t do errands, uh, ever. I pour all my effort into the task at hand so I can meet all my deadlines.
The funny thing is, not all the projects on my plate even have deadlines, or are urgent in any way. The urgent projects are mixed in with projects I’m doing for fun.
(When I say ‘project’, I mean any collection of tasks that require follow-through. Not all of them are creative.)
Each of my projects has a different motivation.
Barbara Sher writes in Refuse to Choose! about people with many interests, whom she calls ‘Scanners’, using the metaphor of a bee flitting from task to task:
We simply assume that a Scanner has a problem if he doesn’t stay at one interest as long as we believe he should stay — usually for his whole adult lifetime or at least until the job is “finished.” But if we don’t know why the Scanner is involved with a subject (that is, what kind of nectar he’s after), we really have no way of knowing what his Duration is, so we don’t know when he’s finished. [Emphasis added.]
Everyone is seeking a different reward (or ‘nectar’) from their project. Sher advocates letting yourself move freely from project to project, rather than trying to fit into a more specialist mold.
Reflecting on my own rewards, some of my projects are for:
- relaxation and fun,
- challenge and growth,
- spreading a message or some other external goal,
- making life easier.
Only the projects with external goals are truly time-sensitive. And the projects meant to make life easier are the ones that feel urgent when life is getting out of hand.