Our time is limited and I don’t mean that in a profound, existential way, I mean in practical day to day planning.
I believe you can do whatever you want, your ability isn’t the limit, time is. Rather than be a jack of all trades, dipping your toe into a dozen different disciplines and trying to master them all, focus is what is best. Focus wins the day.
Lets say I want to be a writer, cartoonist, actor, musician and also inventor.
I work 9-5 Monday to Friday and can get home for 5:30 most days. I need to eat, a proper meal at that so an hour is lost there, and I need to sleep. So, I have a couple of hours tops when I get home to do all this.
Monday I could write, Tuesday I can focus on cartoons (maybe do some online classes), Wednesday is an acting class, Thursday is music practice and Friday to be spent studying if I want to go down the inventor route. The weekend can be crammed full with a hodgepodge of the activities.
My problem with this is that:
- I don’t see how you can totally master a craft by devoting about a fifth of your time to it.
- You are going to burn yourself out and become exhausted.
- Progress is going to be very slow because you aren’t devoting much time to each craft so your progress will feel minimal and could lead to you ditching a craft you were good at.
- Most likely you will end up with a surface level knowledge of many areas rather than really getting to grips with one.
It is important to be focused and realistic. You can do whatever you set your mind to but if you try and juggle fifty balls at once, one will fall at least. Then like a line of dominos it falls apart. Surely I can work in more game analogies. You want get that last slice of cheese in the trivial pursuit board.
That is why I have been considering the various things I want and prioritising some, cutting others out.
What didn’t make the cut?
Dungeons and Dragons
I love Dungeons and Dragons and have always been the DM for our group. I pour a lot of time and effort into crafting a great adventure (trying and failing to capture something as amazing as Baldurs Gate series). One of our campaigns set in an ancient Greek setting went on for over a year. Another, which gained the title the evil campaign, had the requirement everyone make an evil character, all of whom were in debt to the Pasha, a crime lord in the Calisham. It’s fun and I do really enjoy it. However, it is a massive commitment, especially if you take it as seriously as I do.
Dungeons and Dragons helped me realise how much I love writing.
For the year of 2017, I think I will step back from the game. I don’t see how I can devote as much time to my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns if this is the year I really want to give my writing the attention it needs. Cutting out D&D will free up a lot of my time. It hurts to say but no D&D for me in 2017.
I do enjoy my games. When Dragon Age Inquisition came out I disappeared off the face of the earth for about a week. Ditto for Grand Theft Auto five. I was replaying Fallout 4 and focusing on the Institute ending.
I am not saying I won’t play another game but I need to scale back the amount of time spent on it. Gaming is a great hobby, there is a pretty long list to advantages of doing so from encouraging empathy, improving hand eye coordination and problem solving etc. I am going to put it aside, reserving it mainly for an hour or two at the weekend rather than a little bit every day. As I said earlier, it is important not to burn yourself out. I am giving myself a bit of respite, I am not unplugging the console and sealing it away.
Mid 2015 I was keen to really understand computing more. I got a tone of course books on beginners computer science. They have been sitting on my desk unopened for some time but I keep them there with the reasoning that soon I will start then. Time to be blunt and realistic, I am not going to make any meaningful progress in this with all these projects. Getting shelved, I can draw a line under it and make my peace with my very rudimentary knowledge of computer science.
What am I focusing on?
This is the big one for me. I have always written stories but starting November 2015 I have been cranking this to the max. I wrote and published the horror novella North Sea Nightmare, wrote the Man with the Green Tie, a full length novel I am editing to release late Jan/early Feb. Starting a story and treating it as a project rather than a hobby has been a major shift for myself.
I would ideally like this to become my full time career and am pursuing this via the independent author route on the kindle. So far, so good. Writing as a craft though needs constant improvements and refinements, it is going to take essentially most my time.
You become a better writer the more you read. I am already an avid reader but I want to elevate this even more. Reading will still be a leisurely activity but with less gaming and D&D, I want to spend more time on it to help improve my writing.
I still take the day job seriously and want to do more here as well. From deciding the next career step to gaining more qualifications. The Chartered Institute of Bankers is a great organisation that offers a lot of courses and workshops, I have done a few already but I should do more in 2017.
You might have more stamina than me, but realistically that is the most I can focus on.
Looks like it might be snow today!