This is the first of 3 posts on The Renaissance Man’s Guide To Maintaining Momentum While Doing Everything.
The Renaissance Man’s Challenge
Being a renaissance man is hard. There’s so much I want to do and so much I want to be good at there there’s a seemingly endless amount of activities on my plate. Just take a look at the things on my impossible list. Some are service-oriented. Some are athletic oriented. Some are focused on business, some on travel, and some are just random. But, they all have one thing in common, they’re impossible, or at least pretty difficult to do. It’s definitely not going to be easy and it gets even harder when some of the tasks aren’t related and you have to shift between them without losing momentum.
Shifting from one task to another without losing momentum doesn’t seem very difficult, but it’s sort of like a manual car. Once you got it, it’s no problem, you keep your momentum and you can go even faster. But, if you screw it up, you’ll jack up your gearshift, make a lot of unpleasant noise and stall out your engine.
The Three Types of To-Dos
The biggest piece is planning. When you’re a Renaissance man, you’ll have a large number of activities that all require you to do another large number of activities. Together, they can get overwhelming. The easiest way to corral all of these is to plan ahead and break down the tasks. I like to keep things small and simple. Once they get too big, they start to lose meaning. I find that almost everything I need to do falls into one of three categories:
- Things I can do RIGHT NOW [right this second]
- Things I can do SOON [1 week – 1 month out]
- Things I can do IN THE NEAR FUTURE [1 month-6 months out]
How This Actually Works
In the last month, I’ve shifted my focus away from running triathlons. Partially because of my knee [it took a couple weeks to recover from the half-marathon], and partially because of the weather [there aren’t too many people wanting to swim in a frozen Indiana lake in mid-December]. I probably won’t compete in another triathlon until March or April next year, so while I’m still running, swimming and biking when I can, it’s not my sole focus.
However, just because I’m not running 10 miles a day or biking 50, doesn’t mean I can’t do anything at all. I’m just focused on the things I can do RIGHT NOW. Right now, I’m planning for the half-Ironman I’m going to do in the near future [this summer], and very soon [the New Year], I’ll kick back into training for it, but right now, I’m taking a break, giving my body a rest and reloading. However, just because I’m physically resting from triathlons doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing on my other goals. Actually, it’s quite the opposite, I’ve been busier than ever juggling different tasks. In the last month, I’ve started
- consulting through a business venture I’m working on
- learning french [awkwardly, I will admit]
- saving for a few upcoming trips I’m plotting
- advising an upcoming non-profit social movement AND
- working on a short manifesto I’d like to release in the upcoming months
Just looking at that list is a little overwhelming, but still, even with that list, there are really only three types of things; Right Now, Soon, and In The Near Future. For example:
Things I can do RIGHT NOW
- Get a French Book and start learning the basics
- Actively solicit clients and work on current client projects for my business venture
- Keep my expenses low, and keep putting away money
- Write SOMETHING every day on my impossible manifesto
- Continue building my network
- Begin planning a strategy for the non-profit
Every single one of these things I can do today with resources I currently have. They require nothing more of me other than my current skill set, resources, and determination to just do it.
Things I can do SOON
- Find someone to speak French with on a consistent basis [know anyone? email me. seriously]
- Read up on Benny’s language hacking techniques
- Build out my business website, content & services
- Start a blog supplementing my business site
- Look up specific flight information and begin trip itinerary planning
- Find a killer designer for my manifesto [again, know anyone? email me]
These are all things that are going to take a little more planning, research and time, but they’re still able to be done relatively soon and again, don’t require much more than me just sitting down and making it happen
Things I can do in the NEAR FUTURE
- Refine French grammar & begin reading books in French.
- Create a landing page for the release and promotion of the manifesto
- Buy the plane ticket, actually go on these trips
- Continue finding clients & working on current clients.
- Plan and conceptualize a non-profit strategy
These are all things I can do relatively soon, once I get one or two things done that I can do right now. They’re on my radar and I know they’re coming up, but I don’t need to worry about them just yet.
There’s actually a couple of other categories things usually can fall into, but for my own personal reasons I don’t bother to focus on them.
Things I could have done YESTERDAY
This list is always longer than I would like [1 is longer than I would have liked], but there’s nothing I can do about yesterday. Better to move them to today’s list and move on rather than focus on what didn’t happen.
Things I can do in the DISTANT FUTURE
Some people really like this list, but I tend to avoid focusing on it too much. For example, I could focus on each of the individual activities that I’ll want to do each of my trips, but I’m not because minutia tends to slow me down. If I worried about each little detail, I’d never get around to actually taking the necessary steps I have to do right now, making & saving money and buying a ticket. Those details are so far ahead and usually not significant enough to warrant time, focus and dedication…yet. They’re important at some point in the planning process, but the distant future is a little too far away for me to plan. Things tend to change and sometimes the best trips are the ones where the details aren’t always nailed down.
Once you’ve broken the tasks down into the three main types of to-dos and categorized them, you’ll be much better prepared to actually start shifting between them…Look for that on Thursday.
Update: You can catch parts 2 and 3 of this series at the following links