So many projects, so little time

Sundays are usually my planning days. I like to take a break from doing and doing and doing, and see what I’ve done… and what I plan to do next.

I also get to a point where I just need to stop and think about things. I’ve got my execution mindset and framework pretty well in place. But when you’re doing as much as I do, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

So, on Sundays, I like to take stock. See where I’m at. See where I’m going. See if I’ve gotten to where I intended to be at this time, when I planned out my life in the past. Since it’s nearly September, it’s time to look back at the past year – and years – and recalibrate to what I’m going to be doing with myself next year.

And that’s what I did. I logged into my Lulu.com account (I’ve been publishing with them since 2003) just to refresh my memory about what all I’ve done with them. I’ve published a bunch of poetry books, a handful of novels, some workbooks, some templates for book design, and a number of specialized logs and calendars. And all told, I’ve published at least 56 works – more, if you count the ones I’ve done for other people via Lulu.

That surprised me. I mean, I know I’ve published a lot of books, but 56?

I double-checked. Yeah, 56.

Next, I went to my handy dandy spreadsheet of projects I’ve had running over the years, and I took a look at all the things I’ve had going, some of which saw the light of day, some of which didn’t. I have to say, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping track of everything I wanted to do, and what’s mattered most to me, over the years. And sure enough, in my files of “The Program” that I keep for each year (or two) at a time, I had about 90 different projects in flight – some of them complete (as in published or built) and waiting to be promoted, and many more of them still in process.

Records of all my project planning over the years

What’s a busy person to do? I mean, really…? It’s not like I don’t already have a lot going on, with my full-time job, a house to take care of, town board duties that pop up, and additional domestic responsibilities that are top priorities which bump everything else out of the way at a moment’s notice.

Plus, each and every one of those things, I really, really, really want to do. They are all near and dear to my heart, and I would love to have a whole lot of free time to dig into each and every one of them and give them their just due.

Top of my list of 90 projects
Bottom of my list of 90 projects

But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. I’m busy. My life is full.

So, what do I do?

What I always do – prioritize. I take my list of beloved things, and I sit down with my criteria, and I triage them all – deciding which will live, and which won’t get the attention they deserve… yet.

I have my criteria about level of effort, the passion I feel for the project at the time, if there is demand for what I’m about to work on, and what kind of financial upside there may be if I can pull off a successful build and launch. I factor it all in – all that, and more – and then I take a dispassionate, clinical look at what’s left.

And when the dust clears, I have an agenda. I have a plan. I know what I’m gonna work on next, and then I set out to do it. I also know what I’m not going to work on, which is by far the hardest thing for me to handle. I want to do All The Things!!! But of course, I’m one person with a full life, so I can’t. And I shouldn’t. Because that One Thing I’m working on should have my full attention. Or at least, as full a dose of attention as I can muster, under my current life circumstances.

It works, too. Out of the 90 projects I have in flight, over 20 of them are completely built – they just need to be marketed. And those projects got built while I had a whole lot of other things going on. Because I know how. I know how to plan, how to strategize, how to execute. And I do all of the above. Especially the execution.

That’s just me. It’s just what I do.

No matter how little time I may have, stuff gets done.

Considering it done

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can do, how to do it, and how to not do it.

I’m a compulsive creator, you might say, and I have a wide range of interests, so I’m generally in the middle of at least two projects at a time.

I’m also a full-time employee at a major multinational corporation, and yes, my job there involves getting things done. I’m judged by how well I do that, in fact.

Plus, I’m married – been married to the same woman for 30 years, now – so obviously, given how much I like to do just on my own, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to promptly dispatch the things she assigns me to do (my “honey-do list”) so I can get back to doing the other stuff I’m in the middle of doing.

Of course, thinking isn’t the same as doing. But if you think about getting things done in the right way, it can actually help it happen more quickly, better, and with greater satisfaction. It really can. Some people refer to this advance experience of completion as “visualization”, but for me, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a full-system experience of the completion of a task that prepares me for the ultimate culmination far better than any visual-only approach can.

I’m short on time (I have a lot to do today), so I’ll leave it at this. But I have plenty more to say about getting things done – and what helps me most to do a whole lot more with my day than a lot of people manage in a week.