Should you work on more than one project/company at a time?
Is it good to wear numerous hats at once?
These are the thoughts bouncing around my head right now as I evaluate what comes next for me. Many of you know I have a number of things going on right now – from Seconds (mobile payments) to Callin’it (the sports prediction app) to Founders RAW to my writing and to other startup ideas I have. This doesn’t even include the work I do on a weekly basis to keep a consistent income and pay the bills.
It’s good then that I finally figured out a time structure that works for me. Basically, just get the #^$% done is how I operate. It doesn’t matter if it takes 30 mins or 10 hours, I just need to get the deliverables – delivered.
And it’s working.
The point of this post – and the questions I opened with – is I think doing more than just “one thing” at a time works. For some of us. I recently noticed myself bouncing from one thing to another after short bursts of energy given to a particular project/company.
It seems to work for me and my personality.
Similar to a workout, I give high intensity attention the particular activity for a short time and then move on to the next thing during the day that needs attention. During a typical day I might work on 2 or 3 different companies/projects/products but in the aggregate it seems to work.
It’s refreshing to move onto a totally different company and project right after completing a task with the first one. For me, it means progress since I am starting to see the exponential impact these projects are having on my life.
And it’s a hell of a step in the right direction after the challenging year I had last year, where I felt stuck in the mud.
This might not be sustainable long term, as in trying to run the next big company I decide to start. Once you have structure, employees, and a more natural cadence to the daily efforts of the company some of my side projects might need to cool down for a while.
Then again, Virgin Group founder and billionaire Richard Branson pretty much lives the exact lifestyle I am describing above. So I think the lesson is in finding the right cadence and level of appropriate ADD that allows you to maximize effectiveness in as many things as possible.
If that’s just one thing – great. If it’s many, you are probably one of the few.
3 thoughts on “Doing More Than One Thing At A Time”
Nick – You covered a lot more than I could with fewer words. Great observations!
And yes – there are a lot more of us who operate that way rather than what many call “conventional” approaches to getting things done. Sadly, I have to point out that in these times, the so-called experts are too busy trying to pigeonhole the behavior rather than trying to understand and appreciate it.
With over 20% of our school children being “diagnosed” as ADD, all too many are now facing a lifetime of medication to suppress who they are and how they think. Instead, perhaps at a very early age – and at different stages in their school years – all children should be observed and perhaps tested to see how best they learn and function. Let’s face it: Each if us is different in our own unique ways. Some of us are visual learners while others are auditory, for example. I’ve often wondered how many kids grew up wondering if they were stupid because a teacher said so all too many times when little Johnny “just wouldn’t listen?” Worse still, most of these misdiagnosed “ADD kids” are then forced to take Ritalin or Adderall for the rest of their lives, possibly altering their brain patterns in the worst ways?
Perhaps one day, I’ll have an opportunity to approach the Gates Foundation to pique them about such a study. Wouldn’t learning how each child actually learns be a good place to start BEFORE you try to educate them?
For me personally – being a lifelong entrepreneur over a span of 50 years – I generally have many projects juggling in the air most of the time. My ideas and projects are at various stages from early incubation to serious launch and it’s always worked for me. In many ways, I see it as risk management: Some ideas and projects will succeed very quickly while others take much longer to percolate and crystallize. One thing I do hate: The hurry-up-and-wait process that typically goes along with working on one single project at a time. Even worse, the risk that this one project might not make it once you get it to a certain stage. And then where are you? Stuck looking for something else to do. I’d rather have a few irons in the fire as part of my own approach to risk mitigation. And I do confess: Sometimes, a couple of projects do happen to break at the same time making it an insane When-It-Rains-It-Pours situation. Such is the life of an entrepreneur and what I’ve come to accept as my way of life.
In recent years, I’ve been told that I’m a unique personality with latent ADHD tendencies (WTF?) but I get a lot of things done in short order that most people might never get done in a lifetime. Simply a matter of what happens to work for me. But I also happen to believe that I’m not alone out there. Like you, there may be more of us than people see. But we’re all too busy solving problems and changing the world to dwell on that too much.
I too am an entrepreneur with ADD. I am happiest not stuck in the same thing all day. What I have found is the best thing for me is ADD with planning. In other words, planning in advance what projects I am going to hyper-focus on for a period before moving on to the next one to hyper-focus on. If I don’t do the planning, then when I get to the opportunity to work, I am overwhelmed by the myriad of needs that demand my attention–where do I start? This leads to inactivity and frustration. If I plan the segmentation of my day/week/life, then I can attack what is on my plan without worrying about what I am not doing at that time. If something comes up that HAS TO be attended to, I can just shift my schedule around accordingly, but I do not become lost. If I don’t have a plan and just wing it, I rarely make headway on my goals.
I wonder the correlation between ADD and entrepreneurship.
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