What’s On Your Plate? And How Do You Deal With It?

Chris Brogan‘s Lifehack.org article Editing Your Life struck at the heart of what I fear is one of my personal dilemmas. Reading it was like someone telling me I’m losing my hair. I know it to be true, but desperately don’t want it to be.

It’s not simply that there are too many things on my plate, it’s that the plate overflowed 4 years ago. In fact I haven’t seen the plate itself in quite some time.

At the risk of sounding like I want to start a pissing contest (which I don’t), here’s a brief overview of what’s rattling around upstairs at the moment. They’re in no specific order and include both things I have to do, things I enjoy doing, and things I just do:

1.Design engineering and management of 8 active projects at work with 1 or 2 proposals on the go as well. I’ve been there going on 10 years and the pace has only built-up, never decreased.

2.A part time job as a college instructor teaching structural engineering and construction methods and materials to architectural technologists.

3.A passion for photography, image editing and its red-headed stepchild ‘digital workflow’.

4.An active interest in programming – mostly Python, mostly poorly written, and all of it purportedly to help streamline item 1.

5.An interest in weblogs, both writing them and reading them.

6.A penchant for all things web, such as website design, podcasting, rss, technology etc..

7.An appetite for learning, discovering new things and trying things out.

8.A deep-seeded enjoyment in being able to help others explore those same things.

9.A personal mission to be the best father I can be – I’ve wanted this probably since I was 15.

10. An ongoing interest in self-improvement – always wanting to “Sharpen the Saw” as they say.

11.An ever-present feeling that somehow I can succeed at them all if I just manage to find the right mindset, tools and plan.

One problem is that spending time on No.11 is many times just as interesting (or distracting) to me as pursuing items 1. through 10.

Somehow, some way, I’ve got to edit things. Maybe not delete them, but push them out into the future.

In Barbara Sher’s book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, I would be classified as a ‘Scanner’. Someone who wants to taste everything in life but never get’s deep into any of them. A powerful point made in that book is that we’ve got more time that we think. If you look carefully at how much time pursuing these things really takes, and if you utilize that time wisely, you can accomplish a surprising amount.

I have always wanted to pursue everything ‘now‘. Historically, planning ahead more than a week is unheard of for me. I tend to assume that if I don’t have X amount of time alotted for one of my passions, then I might as well not even try to spend time on it. Such bullshit. Another post by Chris (man this guy is a great source of info and inspiration!) puts it into such non-bullshit terms:

…Ask yourself this question right now: Do I have more excuses or more discipline? …

If you’re having any doubts and need a swift kick in the ass like me, go read it.

The purpose of my post is mostly to get those things out there where everyone including myself can see ’em. Maybe pick off the least important ones to pursue later, maybe push the more important ones to the top. Maybe even get some comments from the 4 people who read this blog ;). The internet has never been short of people willing to give advice. Anybody got some? Leave a comment, email me or post about it and let me know. What’s on your plate and how do you deal with it?

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