Ever had one of those days when you realise you've over extended yourself?
I started to write this over 12 months ago. Looking at it today and reviewing what changes I made, I discovered an interesting change to the way I approach things these days. It's even spilled over into my professional life...
The moment of truth
It's 3 am as I begin to write this. I should have been asleep hours ago but my mind is racing. I'm exhibiting all the signs of management stress I know so well. Mind still reviewing the inputs of the day, comparing against the objectives, planing the next day..not being able to sleep because the mind is in full flight and knowing that with just a little more effort I can achieve the short term goals I've set myself.
Then I realised that for once I've bitten off more than I can chew.
Usually I have lots of project team members I can delegate to and get everything done. Lots of lovely specialists that just swoop down and sort out the angst with me directing. When a team works together it's a beautiful thing.
Not this time though. There is no team, just me and we're not talking about work, we're talking about my so called non work life.
I looked at my to do list this evening and totted up just what it is that I actually do and finally realised that with the best will in the world I'm just not super human (although don't tell my clients that, this must be our little secret *winks*)
Totting up the responsibilites
I've always been a bit of an overachiever and after a while you begin to believe in that myth of always being able to cope. It's not failed me in all the years I've been on this planet, so I thought I was pretty safe believing I could handle everything that I needed to.
Until that to-do list.
Suddenly I realised that I'd allowed scope creep to come in, make it's self at home and put its feet on the coffee table. It was a bit of a shock, because in my work life everyone knows that my answer will be no before they even ask it.
Yet my personal life has become a mountain of things to do and I'm blinking as I look at the interrelationships between all of them as I try to descope. Unpicking the dependencies and making a decision is hard. The only good thing about this is I don't need to use a risk based approach. I think. I'll let you know when I finish writing this
Totting up the list
So, here's my areas that need to be reviewed. I'm not even going to bother listing the tasks for each as there's not enough hours left in the night.
I run 6 blogs. This one and 5 others. Four of them are directly related to my second life activities as they are the public face/sales catalogue for my inworld shops. One is professional and one is a personal interest. I also run 5 brands in Second Life, am helping a friend establish a sales presence there, am working full time and (in theory) have a personal life as well.
What I have discovered is that I need to focus on one area at a time. So down the years I give each my undivided attention for a period until I either get bored or am forced back to the others because I've neglected them too long. Each one is important as they reflect a part of me that needs to be nourished for me to be complete.
This is an interesting puzzle. In this case the business prioritisation obviously is the only thing I need be concerned about, but how do you prioritise your character?
One of the shops in second life was purely designed to make money. It worked on the premise that finding a niche and delivering quality goods will pay off and it is finally beginning to. but it's not that much fun
The art is my sentimental favourite. no money in art in sl and after a car accident in 2007 I stopped creating. I managed to get back into it through a pale imitation - I started to build miscellaneous things that the people who saw them liked, but it never took off. mainly because I got bored with building things rather than allowing myself pure creation. but this little adventure has given me multiple shops, multiple blogs, 2 web shops and a backlog of things that I'm beginning to feel will never get finished....
So, want to know what happened down the last 12 months?
Well, the number of web shops grew and as they went out of business the number shrank so the time required to deal with the online shopping has substantially decreased. Linden Lab made so many poorly thought out changes with extremely poor supporting technology that it became impossible to spend the time required to update because as soon as you did they'd change it again and it would require yet more work to adapt and for the sales returns it wasn't viable.
The blog numbers continue to expand as I create blogs with certain themes that are interesting to me and there's still not enough hours in the day. The main inworld store continues to be profitable but the variations in monthly income are so extreme depending on what changes Linden Lab made in a particular month that I no longer expend substantial effort on maintaining, promoting or managing the inworld presence.
My social life has picked up now I'm not wasting my time in a game platform where the owners think it's fun to torment people by making spurious and damaging changes and all up I'm a lot happier.
What did I learn from all this?
If something is not on your critical path then in some cases it's ok to ignore it. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't get done. It is not possible to do everything you think you need to and if you step back you'll see that some of the things you think you should do aren't actually necessary to the outcome.
Such a simple thing and it has taken me too long to learn it.