Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Lot All at Once – or – A Little at a Time?

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I think I’m going to have to post one of my reserve posts before I post this one, because I touch upon this same subject, and if I don’t refer to it, I might seem like I’m contradicting myself here. A quick synopsis of the post is that sometimes when I focus too much on one thing that I neglect everything else, but it doesn’t matter so much to me as long as I’m not sacrificing “want to” stuff to “have to” stuff. Hmm. Maybe I didn’t have to write 1,000 words to say that after all.

I recently finished watching the last season of “Lost” and the last season of “Heroes” in the same week. Since I was relying on my roommates’ collection and availability of discs at the libraries that I use, my watching of these shows could sometimes be a little sporadic. This was particularly the case with “Heroes,” though it happened with “Lost” as well. In fact, I started watching “Heroes”, which is four seasons, before “Lost”, which is six seasons, and I still finished them around the same time.

Heroes – I burned through the first season. It was quite good. I was told that Season Two wasn’t quite so good, so I didn’t immediately go pick it up.

Lost – I watched the first season pretty damn quickly. I was working on sorting cards, and I had all six discs available in my roommates’ collection. Season Two was available at the library, so I got through it pretty quickly too. My roommates had Season Three, so I was done with it in no time too. Season Four I watched a little bit slower because it seemed like someone always had the discs I needed checked out, and I would have to go back the next week.

Heroes – During this time I decided to go ahead and watch Season Two. It was a short season and I got through it pretty quick. It suffered from being cut short because of the writer’s strike, but it was actually pretty good, so I was a little more inclined to get Season Three.

All Things Boston – Somewhere in all of this I also finished watching “Boston Legal” which I had been sporadically watching since 2008. It was a great show. I also watched some of the first season of “Cheers.” Ok, that was it for Boston, I think. I was as far as I was going to get with “24” until the library gets the last couple of seasons, by the time I started watching “Lost” but I did watch the first season of “St. Elsewhere” at some point and the first season of “Soap.” I only bring all this up because I want it to be clear that I wasn’t just focused on the two shows I’m focusing on here. Oh, and I watched “Sherlock” which was definitely in Boston.

Lost and Heroes – I watched Season Five (Lost) and Season Three (Heroes) at about the same time, and then Season Six of Lost (the final season) was checked out for over a month. I finished Season Three (Heroes) and the first three discs of Season Four (the final season) was out too. It came in. I watched it. I had to wait for the last two discs to come in then. Meanwhile, Season Six (Lost) finally got turned in. I watched for a week, and the last two discs of “Heroes” were turned in. And that’s how I finished both of them the same week.

All this extraneous information is just to show that sometimes the act of doing a little at a time on various projects can make projects drag out a lot longer than they would if you just prioritized one project at a time, but as long as you do work a little at a time on everything, eventually the projects find themselves reaching their endpoint.

In my other post, I said that I wasn’t so much worried about prioritizing as long as I was doing some “want to” stuff each day. I do have a little bit of issue with my own philosophy though. Unlike watching a TV show, where it’s a passive task beyond finding the time and inclination to put it on and watch it, creative projects do need some amount of priority applied to them. Ok, I admit that if I was trying to watch 40 or 50 shows as opposed to 4 or 5 that I might run into the same issue that I have on my creative projects, but that’s not my reality.

I do on the other hand have 40 or 50 or more creative projects unfinished at the moment. Some have been unfinished for so long that they will probably never be finished, and possibly for good reason, like they weren’t very good to begin with. On the other hand, some are projects that I’m genuinely interested in finishing, but I’ve not done a little bit here and a little bit there on these projects for years. All the other projects have interfered, along with “have to” activities and non-project “want to” activities.

What I’m saying is that even though I tend to bounce back and forth between projects, I would be better served at times to have only 4 or 5 that I’m bouncing back and forth on, and not to try to juggle 40 or 50 or more. Or at the very least, it would be better if I did some work on each project every so often, rather than putting some away and never looking at them at all.

Stephen King said in an interview that whenever writing a book lasts much longer than a season (spring, summer, fall, winter) that he tends to have more trouble finishing it. I find this interesting. Do you experience this? Are there projects that you are only interested in so long before you want to turn to a different project? Do you lose all interest once you’ve lost interest, or does your interest return in spurts? Answering these questions may help you to understand the importance of prioritization in your life when it comes to projects.

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