If you’re anything like me, you have a to do list a million miles long with new things being added constantly and no time to get it all done. It can get challenging to figure out what to tackle first and what needs to be a high priority. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, freaked out and end up spending countless hours on Facebook just hoping it’ll all go away or magically work itself out. Or is that just me?
I have a real fear about running out of time and not getting everything important to me done. I’m one of those people who have a million different projects going simultaneously, often not related to each other, and it’s challenging to know what to do next. It’s easy to freeze up and want to blow it all off or pick the easiest (but least time-sensitive) thing to work on just to be doing something because everything else is just too much. Can you relate?
I’ve been told this is a common problem for people with multiple interests who refuse to focus. I’ve tried focusing (and picking one area of interest) for more years than I can count with no success. If you’re at the beginning of this road thinking you can focus on one thing when you have varied interests, take it from me right now, don’t even try. You’ll only end up disappointed and back to square one wondering how to manage all your varied interests simultaneously.
It’s easy to feel like you’re running out of time when you can’t seem to put all your varied interests together in a way that make sense. Something always feels like it’s being left out or discarded. You end up feeling like life is passing you by and you’re not doing the things that you want to do. It’s easy to end up feeling like you’re wasting your life especially when you have unrealized goals.
From one multi-focused person to another, here are some ways to soothe the freaked out part of you who feels like time is running out while gaining traction towards your various interests and never ending to do list.
1. Get clear about your goals and why you want them.
Take inventory of the big goals in your life – those things you’ll be really bummed out at the end of your life that you didn’t achieve or didn’t even try to achieve. Get clear about why they’re important to you. Are they really your dreams or what someone else wants you to do? Why is it important for you to achieve this? I’ll let you in on a little secret right now: achieving goals doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. It could be the pursuit of the goals, knowing you’re working towards something, overcoming challenges and staying true to what you want that really does it for you.
2. Stop trying to be perfect.
For the love of God, stop trying to be perfect. From one perfectionist to another, trying to be perfect is killing your happiness and keeping you from your goals. Most of us who fear running out of time also aim for impossible ideals and feel like we won’t be happy until we reach them. Which, let’s face it, is IMPOSSIBLE. I’m not telling you this to bum you out but instead to free you from this incessant chase. Dropping the need to be perfect will create space for you to be true to who you are and to pursue all your varied interests without some impossible measurement hanging over your head. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Whenever I sit down to write a novel and am staring down a blank page, I give myself permission to write garbage. I tell myself this is only a first draft, that it’s supposed to be awful, and it’s the only way I can get myself to put words to page. Releasing yourself from your perfectionism will seriously help you to move forward with more ease and less pressure.
3. Commit to your high priorities.
Sometimes it’s as simple as committing to something to make it a reality. If you’re at all like me, you may be dancing around some of your goals because you feel like they’re too big, too scary or not even possible. As I mentioned in step one, sometimes it’s not about achieving your goal but taking the road to get there. Getting started and pushing through that initial inertia (which happens for everyone) will help squash the fear of running out of time because at least now you’re on your way and no longer standing at the starting block.
4. Prioritize your to do list and make space to do multiple things at once.
If you’re a multi-focused person like me, this step is vital. Make a list of all the projects you want to accomplish and prioritize them. Also make space to focus on multiple projects at once. I don’t mean multitasking which I hear can cause more harm than good. What I’m talking about is developing a schedule that includes a few of your projects at a time. Yes–still focus on one thing at a time when you sit down to work on something. This is the time to get really focused. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple focused projects going on at once.
For example, right now my projects include maintaining and writing Untangled Life, redesigning my this website (www.laurakinker.com), launching my Dream Builders coaching program, finishing a writing project I started five years ago and starting a new novel. The way I get through it is to determine what is most important to focus on each day while being sure to include a bit of the others along the way. Right now redesigning my personal website is the most pressing thing (since it’s literally a mess right now) however I’m taking the time out to write this post because writing for this website is also a high priority. I find a balance of doing multiple projects at once. And, yes, I have a million more projects that aren’t on this top list but they’ll just have to wait for now.
5. Make space for fun and friends.
Do not expect to work all the time on your projects AND have an amazing life (unless you seriously get high off all that work). You need to make time for fun and friends, too. Be sure to schedule in things that make you happy, that relieve stress and that give you a much needed break from all your projects and to do lists. Think about crafting a well balanced life. Rarely anyone at the end of their lives wishes that they worked more. Most people wish they had made the time for more fun and connecting with other people. Make this one of your high priorities now while you still have the chance to make it happen.
6. Enjoy the present moment.
No matter what you’re doing, enjoy the present moment. Be fully present and engaged in whatever is happening, even if nothing is happening. This is called being mindful and it’s the easiest gateway towards inner peace and serenity. One great way to get yourself fully in the present moment is to take three slow cleansing breaths. Focus on your breathe as you’re doing them–pulling the air in then slowly releasing it. Three times. This will get you centered and fully in the moment as well as calm you down. As part of this also don’t dwell too much on the past or the present. The past is gone so let it go while the future is an unknown. Being fully planted in the present moment will make you feel more grounded and more in control.
If you have any additional tips and tricks to how not to freak out about running out of time, I’d love to hear them. Please take a moment to comment below. Us multi-focused people need to stick together!
Are you one of those people who can’t seem to decide on a career? Have you struggled for months (YEARS!) trying to figure out that one career that makes the most sense? Do you cringe whenever you hear “follow your passion” and “do the work you love?” If yes, you are not alone.
I have struggled right along with you (for YEARS) trying to determine which career to focus my attention on. I was under the impression that you had to pick just one. This all started in middle school when my parents sat me down and told me I had to get serious about my academic career and needed to figure out which career path I wanted to follow. I did not take this well and subsequently suffered for years afterwards trying to figure this out.
It wasn’t until recently when I rediscovered Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose! that I finally gave in to the fact that I’m a scanner. According to Barbara, a scanner is someone who loves to do a variety of things (often simultaneously) and isn’t satisfied focusing on only one thing. They CANNOT only do one thing. They are not built that way. Focusing on only one thing drives a scanner crazy and leaves them deeply dissatisfied.
I read the book back in 2006 when it came out but for some reason it’s taken rediscovering it in 2014 for it to really sink in.
You may be a scanner if…
If you’re a scanner, hello and welcome to our crazy world. Yes, we may not fit societal’s mold of picking one career for the rest of our lives, but once you get comfortable knowing that this is who you are, then you can relax and get on what you really want to do: EVERYTHING!
Not surprisingly, scanners come in all varieties ranging from cyclical scanners (who have four to five major areas of interest) to the Sybil (whose list of interest is endless and always expanding). No matter which type you are, there is a way to manage all of what you want to do with ease and grace and without losing your head.
Since graduating from college (communication major – can’t get much more broad), I’ve dabbled in marketing, publishing, writing (novels), journalism (writing boring financial articles), editing, graphic design, web design, real estate (briefly held a real estate license), life coaching, photography, and akashic readings. I’ve held full time jobs, telecommuting jobs, freelance jobs and owned my own businesses (multiple). I’ve been a managing editor, marketing coordinator, staffing sales associate, real estate agent, web designer, graphic designer, writer, proofreader, photographer, life coach and akashic records practitioner. A lot of these I’ve done simultaneously and continue to do (at least four).
So, you see, you are not alone.
the scanner toolkit
It’s one thing to know you’re a scanner, it’s another to know what to do about it.
The first tool Barbara suggests every scanner use is the SCANNER DAYBOOK. It’s a notebook dedicated to capturing all your thoughts and ideas so you have them in one place and easily accessible. You can do this in a notebook or online using Pinterest or bookmarks. Whatever works for you. I personally have a notebook where I capture everything. I call it my dream journal and it gives me comfort knowing all my great ideas are tucked away in there waiting.
The second is the WALL CALENDAR POSTER which is a six year calendar (you can make it yourself using poster board) used for marking down all the projects you want to do and giving them deadlines (times). I use this in a different way – writing out all my projects in a spreadsheet with deadlines. I break down each project (like write a new novel) down into bite size chucks (like develop a storyline) and assign deadlines to each chunk. I then sort them in order of their deadlines and waalaa – I have a workable “to do” list that helps me to manage all that I want to do.
Barbara also suggests using STICKY NOTES as a solution to capturing ideas and recommends sticking them everywhere.
I am so grateful for having found this book and to have stopped struggling with trying to nail down one career focus. As you can see from my website, I’m an intuitive life coach, akashic practitioner, photographer and writer and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’d love to hear about your experiences as a scanner. It’s helpful to know we’re not alone.