Yesterday, I wrote about focusing in on five personal and/or professional projects, to which my friend, rightly, responded, “It’s a good goal, but what about my other 23 projects?” This hits on a fundamental issue in simplicity – or any other form of development: it sounds good on paper, but is difficult to apply in real life.
The point of simplicity is to make room for the the things in our lives that truly matter. All of my five projects were things that were important to me, but might otherwise go undone in my life. I deliberately set them apart from other types of things, such as:
- The “sh*t I gotta do” category. While I admittedly have less of this category than others – no young humans to care for, no J-O-B where I’m doing the work of three people – there’s still a fair deal of stuff – personally and professionally – that needs to get done so I don’t fail at life.
- The “this gives me no joy” category. There are a lot of things that don’t fit the bill for the first category, but aren’t exactly pleasurable – the things done out of addiction, habit, or boredom. I’ve really tried to eliminate most of this from my life (for example, Netflix is now a monthly treat), but understand that other people aren’t in quite as much of a rush to do so.
- The “holding pattern” category. There are several projects that I’ve worked on this year – going to yoga 6x/week, sticking to the same sleep schedule, developing a consistent practice routine for bass, etc. – that I’m content to just keep in a holding pattern. At some point I may need to “get back on the wagon” or go more hard-core with one or more of these projects, but for now I trust that they’ve become habit.
- The “oh, honey…” category. These are things I fantasize about doing, but are realistically not going to happen anytime soon (or possibly in this lifetime). The majority of my “oh, honey” ambitions involve trying to resurrect some part of my past self – bellydancing, language-learning, running, swimming, etc. Even my cross-stitch, which was once a big part of my life, has become a 11pm ritual of, “Should I cross-stitch now? Nah… <Passes out>”
So what’s a busy millennial like myself or my friend to do? It’s a tricky issue, but here are a few suggestions:
- Start with one “special” project. As I admitted yesterday, I’m perpetually over-ambitious and decided on five of em’, but anyone can start with one and go from there.
- Switch from working concurrently to sequentially. Even now, I’m realizing that there are going to be times when certain projects have to go on the back-burner. As long as I keep focused on at least one of my projects – even if it means switching between them – I know I’ll be OK.
- Set smaller goals for projects. My first instinct is to say, “give yourself more time than 12 weeks,” but I think it’s important to stick to a close deadline (this is why so many new year’s resolutions fail). Instead, try setting smaller, more manageable goals, which will inevitably lead to bigger ones as you progress.
Have you struggled with making time for the things that are important to you? If so, have you used any strategies that I haven’t mentioned here?