I have a problem: I try to work on too many projects at once. As I’ve told my wife, if I had a thousand lifetimes, I could happily devote each one to mastering a different pursuit. I end up trying to cram it all into one lifetime. It doesn’t always work.
Here are the projects I’m working on right now:
- This blog
- Developing a Strong Artificial Intelligence
- Writing stories
- Keeping a journal (which I’ve done regularly since 2003)
- Pen twirling
- Learning about a new topic every week (last two weeks were Mozambique, this week is the U.S. armed forces)
- Maintaining some semblance of regular exercise
This actually isn’t too crowded, by my standards. The journal only takes a few minutes each night, the pen twirling I do in my spare time, and the exercise is pretty quick because I’m not, like, hardcore. The blog has its own built-in mechanism for not wasting too much time, and the “new topic each week” thing isn’t bad either.
Story-writing and AI development are the only major time sinks, which generally means I have to focus on only one at a time. For the past week or so, it’s been AI.
To give you a sense of how much worse this project-hoarding can get, here’s a partial list of projects I’ve given up (or at least put on long-term hold) in the past year or two. I say “partial” because I’m sure there are lots more I’m forgetting.
- Learning Italian
- Learning Chinese
- Improving my Spanish
- Rubik’s Cube
- Dvorak typing
- A previous blog, Coffee With Sargeras
- Writing articles for the now-defunct website Insulin Funk
- An idea on how to raise money for charity using video games
Letting go of a project is always hard for me. A lot of these efforts had gotten pretty far before I stopped. I could solve a Rubik’s cube in about three minutes (though I’ve since forgotten the patterns). I could touch-type in Dvorak at a pretty decent speed. I could juggle three balls, and two in one hand, and do all sorts of tricks. Coffee With Sargeras was pretty successful – and a lot of fun – before I finally decided to end it. And Zen…well, Zen was Zen.
Karate was particularly hard to give up. I had done it for over three years, reached black belt, got to really like a lot of people in the class. But I had to stop.
Projects compete for many different kinds of resources. Sometimes lack of time is the deciding factor. Sometimes it’s mental energy. And sometimes it’s sanity.
I know there are people who can thrive on being nonstop busy, scheduling every waking moment. I am not one of those people. I need peace, simplicity, quiet.
Karate was a good thing, but I had too many good things.
What have you let go lately?