Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Having too much to do

"Hello my name is Isaac, and I'm a task addict."

Do you thrive in an environment of chaos?
Do you have a list of ‘would like to learns’ that is at least a years worth of work for an unemployed person?
Everytime you talk with someone do you write down at least one new thing that you would like to learn / research / reaffirm your understanding of?

That is a world I constantly live in. Every project requires me to learn new things, new tech, new ways to interact with people and new ways to do all of those things.

My current list is stored in 5 different places, that's how much I have, I have an iPhone version, a moleskine notebook, Evernote, Todoist and finally my work backlog. (The work backlog is slowly transitioning to Evernote and Todoist)

I've tried several different versions of organization (Get Things Done, Kan-Ban, Backlog) but none of them really work for me. I haven't found the idea of a prioritized backlog all that useful.

Currently I'm trying to write a blog, start up a Tester group, help a couple of people with larger scope test community projects, volunteer to help with BBST, run an elementary school carnival, volunteer in my child's classroom, plus a reading list of 20-30 blogs, 8-12 articles, my stack of books is overwhelming (literally, it fell over as I tried to count them) and then my list of word definitions, small learnings and topics to research is 100+. Garage full of projects. 101 things to do this year. Building a fort. Expand chicken coop. And none of this really even just deals with normal life maintenance; mow lawn, do dishes, feed offspring, clean house, entertain the children or pay attention to the wife.

I have found that when my brain says “oh, what about…”, and I have the time, space and/or resources to dive myself into that topic immediately. I can focus and delve deeply into a subject, and stay there for hours on end sometimes bordering on mania. (What Chimanski calls Flow). If I am unable to dive into my minds chosen topic immediately my mind wanders for a time. Eventually, it settles on something else it finds interesting, and the cycle repeats, until I am capable of doing something that my mind wants to do.

I have been attempting to find ways to narrow down or show my mind the path that I think would most benefit me at the moment, and sometimes I can grind my mind into something. Usually my mind wins, and I wander.

Also, when I don’t have this massive list of things to do I find myself swimming in a sea of boredom, never able to accomplish the next thing, cause my list of potentially useful things is too small to find something that strikes my mind as interesting right now. As I tend to task change every 15-90 minutes unless I get into a flow.

People are always saying "you have too much, you'll burn out". But that's not quite right, I have found that when I don't move at light speed for 8-10 months...I just don't move. But then there are those periods where nothing, just nothing seems to interest me and I am required to recharge, vegetating on kung-fu, zombie flicks and some random luddite project (woodworking, blacksmithing, calligraphy… you know the normal stuff ;).

Strengths finder tells me it's Intellection. Briggs tells me it's my Intuition and Thinking pieces. Both pieces to me imply that after I've spent a fair amount of time doing massive amounts of thinking / doing, I need time off to ponder and study, connecting things internally before I can speak them outloud to other people.

Or maybe I just need to recharge mentally…

As an aside to prove my point, this blog post is from 2013, yet I couldn’t find the words to do the topic justice till just now, cause my brain would look at the article and go, meh not now.


  1. Almost off topic, but my mind was blown by the idea that your smiley face ";)" was also your closing parenthesis. Jeremy Reeder suggested that is actually reasonable English since we don't use two periods when we end a sentence with an abbreviation. 0_o.

  2. I totally understand your behaviour. I find it a lot harder to focus and get in the zone, but I do have a long long list of tasks and personal pet projects.

    I used to give each project small chucks of attention. In the end, I was working on all of them but not achieving/finishing anything.

    My current strategy is to pick one or two major projects for the current year. Then during the year I only do tasks that add up to those projects. Everything else is delayed or delegated. My influence was Derek Sivers (source: