I’ve been really productive lately. As such I’ve had little time to devote to many of my pet projects. I’m finding out that it’s much better for my overall stress level to drop some things. In essence–to quit. Even if I wasn’t devoting time and energy to them, they were there, weighing on me in the back of my mind, nagging at me for attention.
It’s hard for me to give up on good ideas, but I feel that in order to do something great not only do you need a good idea to start with, you need to be able to focus on that idea and execute. It’s hard to focus when you have so many things going on. Sometimes you’ve got to let things go.
h3. Prioritize Then Quit!
I recently went through an exercise that I found took a huge weight off my shoulders. I made lists of all the things that take up my time. My work, my blogs, my commitments, my hobbies…everything. I then went through and prioritized within those lists. It was hard, but it had to be done. Without getting into detail, my “professional” list looked something like this:
# My new business (Blue Flavor for those who don’t know)
# Asterisk – My “personal” professional site
# Upcoming speaking gigs. (SXSW being the most important to me)
# Lifehacker and Publish.com (Because they are keeping me afloat right now)
# Community writing (I do a bit pro-bono writing)
# My Travel site project
# My book on blogging
# My Web design book
# My blogging site
I then went through my lists and made notes that gave me an indication of how much time I was spending on each item. I also noted how much focus I had to use. For example, when I’m working on client work for my new business, I often have to put all my focus towards that while I’m doing it. That means closing e-mail, not answering the phone, etc.
The lists and notes gave me a good idea of where I should be spending my time. For example, Asterisk is a high priority that doesn’t take a ton of time and needs focus at times, but not all the time. That’s good! My travel site project was taking a ton of time and focus and it’s not a high priority. That’s bad.
I did the same thing with my personal life. I then merged the lists and re-prioritized, trying to do my best to be honest with myself about what was important. Importance was guaged on many factors and with work/life balance in mind. Something that was fun might be more important than something good for my career, for example. When this was done I had a pretty good idea of what I felt was important and how much time and focus I was spending on each item in my list.
Then I started making cuts. I completely stopped working on several side projects. I filed a few book outlines away for a possible revisitation in the future. I quit playing X-Men Legends 2 and Guild Wars in favor of Age of Empires 3. I said no to some writing gigs I’d been mulling about. I stopped watching What Not To Wear with Staci. I did all of this to try and free up time and more importantly focus on the things on the top of my list.
There were a few things I couldn’t just cut. For those I set aside time to wrap them up and finish them off. Vowing to be more selective about what I agree to in the future.
At first I felt guilty. Guilty! Now that I look back a bit, I think that’s kind of silly. Most of what I quit were things I’d brought on myself. If anyone was being let down it was me and as I’d just shown myself–I had bigger fish to fry. After a few days though, I felt really good about the decisions I’d made. I felt physically lighter. Heck, I feel even better just writing about it here. I’m a quitter and I love it! ;0)
I did all of this a few weeks back and the last two weeks have been, for the most part, really good! My stress level is lower. I feel much more on top of things and I’ve managed to get a ton of good, important, things done. The hardest part was getting past that guilty feeling, but that went away once I realized how much better I was feeling and how much more focus I was able to put into things that really mattered to me.