Ten years ago now, while feeling overwhelmed by all the different commitments I’d made, I promised a group of fellow mastermind participants that I would drop 100 projects per week until the remaining to-do’s would actually fit in my head…without stressing me out.
The universal reply was “Whoa, you have that many projects? No way!” Yep, I sure did. I kinda figured that it was a little excessive for most people, but only because I was documenting it better, not because I was doing more.
Turned out I was definitely doing more than anyone else I talked to about this. Like a crazy amount more. I honestly didn’t know.
In the interest of getting just a little more sane, I did it. I went and dropped 100 projects per week, week after week, deleting them from OmniFocus (my favorite tool at the time) and doing my best to process the emotions surrounding that. Some of the projects were pretty weird things to be so emotionally attached to when I looked at them, but every one had a level of commitment that was a real challenge to let go of. Emotional release can be hard, y’know?
Anyway, within a few weeks, it worked! Dropping a hundred projects per week was hard, then it was harder, then it was SUPER-hard, and then whoosh! …Suddenly it got easy. One of those “Huh. Is that all?” realizations dissolved my resistance, my backlog, and delivered me straight to my goal.
Fast-forward a decade to the present, and it looks like things have sprawled out of hand once again. Time for a healthy purge of the archaic goals and someday projects that I’m shoving out of my system (now ToDoist) and back into the void from whence they came! I’m not saying that I’ll never do them at any point in my life, only that I’m not going to track the should that I feel around doing them, and that I release myself from any obligation to care. So unless I do them this week, they won’t get done this year, and if they sneak back at some point after that then I’ll evaluate them then.
A lot of these projects are great ideas for somebody, truly brilliant and creative, dare I say world-changing ideas? How can I just drop them?!? Well, perhaps all the illusions of grandeur are just that. Perhaps not. But in any case, there’s only so much I can do. How do these projects measure up against all the ones that I’m clearly doing for all the right reasons? Great ideas for somebody and great ideas for me are two entirely different things, and it’s good to detangle that mess every so often. So here we go…
Within a few days I’ll be posting a list of the hundred projects I’m dropping or completing this week. And with 100 of them, I’ll have to be very picky about trying to complete anything. I do this to out myself, so that I can’t hide the dysfunction going on here. Also, I hope to maybe inspire you to do something similar.
If a project we were working on together or that I was discussing doing with you is listed, oops! I’m sorry, I won’t be getting to it. It’s for the best, trust me. It may still need to get done, but I’m not the guy to do it. If I went back to trying, I’d just cause delays or screw it up at this point. My apologies for allowing my enthusiasm to eclipse my bandwidth, there are only so many hours in the day and only so many things I can do successfully before I have too many and everything grinds to a standstill.Here are some of the questions I’m using to guide my process:
- What if I stopped this project altogether? Who would notice and what would happen?
- Is this worth the struggle? (Very useful for reimbursement related projects)
- Is the person I’m pursuing here likely to find me when I’m actually ready for the opportunity they represent? (Especially useful for cold leads)
- Can delegate/trust/release this project to other people to carry through (even if they don’t)?
- What was my “Yes Threshold” for this project? Is that threshold still being met today?
What other questions or guiding advice would you like to offer me? I welcome your comments below :)