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Why you shouldn’t try to be over-productive by focusing on more than 2 projects at a time

Manish Kumar

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Let’s begin this article by understanding what a project is.

Tiago Forte, a productivity expert, defines a project as a series of tasks with a specific goal, usually requiring multiple steps or actions to complete. It’s a focused effort with a defined outcome in mind, requiring planning, execution, and sometimes collaboration.

Now that you understand what a project is, it’s clear that it requires your full attention due to the defined timeline and outcome. If a task involves a series of steps and demands your complete focus, it’s difficult to concentrate on multiple things at once. That’s the essence of this article.

That being said, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t explore multiple things. You should definitely explore diverse areas, particularly in your 20s, but not all at once. Undertake a few concurrent projects and then embark on a new one. Just ensure each project has a fixed timeline and a defined outcome. Without this approach, you will likely feel the urge to start new projects while juggling multiple ones at the same time.

I’ve noticed many of my talented friends taking on multiple projects at once. However, this often results in them becoming jacks of all trades but masters of none. This approach can also lead to other issues, which I’ll discuss in this article.

I, too, was once in this position. I found myself juggling multiple tasks, believing that my talent would allow me to manage them. After receiving initial success and plenty of praise, I continued with this approach. However, several years later, observing average individuals becoming increasingly successful by focusing on single projects, I came to understand the importance of taking on only a couple of projects at most at a time. I also appreciated the significance of the 10,000-hour rule concept, as popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers.”

Just to clarify, when I mention “project,” I’m not only referring to professional projects. Personal projects, such as home renovations, enrolling in a course, or even planning for a baby or raising one, are also included.

None of the work will produce excellent result

One of the significant drawbacks of concurrently managing multiple projects is that none of your work is likely to yield excellent results. This notion may seem counterintuitive, as one might believe that working on several projects simultaneously would lead to increased productivity and a broader range of accomplishments. However, the reality is often quite the opposite.

Each project, regardless of its size or complexity, demands a level of dedication, time, and focus to be executed effectively. A project is not merely a task that can be completed in a few hours or days. It’s a focused effort that requires careful planning, execution, and sometimes collaboration. It involves a series of steps or actions, each of which needs to be meticulously undertaken to achieve the defined outcome.

When you’re juggling multiple projects, your attention is divided. Instead of focusing on one project and giving it your all, you’re spreading your resources—time, energy, and focus—too thinly across several projects. This division can dilute the quality of your work on each project, leading to mediocre or even poor outcomes.

Without giving complete attention to a single project, you’re unable to delve deep into its nuances and potential. A lack of depth and understanding can lead to surface-level solutions instead of comprehensive, innovative strategies. You might end up missing out on opportunities to innovate and improve, which can only be spotted when one invests enough time and focuses on a project.

Moreover, when you’re working on several projects simultaneously, it’s challenging to manage time effectively. Each project has its own timeline, and trying to adhere to all of them can result in conflicts and missed deadlines.

While working on multiple projects might seem like a productive approach initially, it usually leads to subpar results. It’s essential to realize the importance of dedicating your complete focus to a single project or, at most, a few projects to ensure high-quality outcomes. This focused approach allows you to explore each project’s potential thoroughly and produce excellent results.

Hamper Your Health

A major negative effect of juggling multiple projects simultaneously is the impact it can have on your health, particularly on your mental well-being. One of the primary issues is the onset of anxiety.

When you’re constantly switching between different tasks and projects, your mind is always on high alert. This constant state of alertness can lead to chronic stress, which is a known trigger for anxiety disorders. You might find yourself constantly worrying about meeting deadlines, forgetting crucial tasks, or underperforming on your projects, all of which can cause your anxiety levels to spike.

Furthermore, the pressure to perform well across multiple projects can lead to long working hours, leaving you with little to no time for rest and relaxation. This lack of downtime can result in sleep disturbances, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and lead to other health issues such as fatigue, decreased immune function, and even depression.

Finally, when you’re stretched too thin, it’s easy to neglect self-care routines such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mindfulness practices. These activities are essential for maintaining good physical and mental health, and neglecting them can lead to a variety of health problems.

So, while it might seem beneficial to take on multiple projects at once, it’s crucial to consider the potential impact on your health.

The Cost on Personal Life

When you’re juggling multiple projects at once, it’s not just your professional life that takes a hit; your personal life can suffer significantly as well. One of the most noticeable effects is the disappearance of quality family time.

  • Loss of Family Time: As your schedule becomes more packed with various project-related responsibilities, the time you have to spend with your family inevitably decreases. Soon, you might find that your family time is entirely gone. This loss is significant, as spending time with family is not only a source of joy but also a necessary break from work-related stress.
  • Neglected Relationships: The effect extends further to other relationships as well. Friends, partners, and even children may feel neglected. When you’re always preoccupied with work, you might fail to be there for your loved ones in their times of need.
  • Impact on Mental Health: Such a lifestyle can also lead to feelings of guilt and stress, impacting your mental health. You may feel guilty about not being able to give your loved ones the time they deserve, and the stress of managing multiple projects can add to this.
  • Loss of Leisure Time: Besides relationships, your leisure time, or ‘me time, also takes a hit. Hobbies, interests, and relaxation activities fall by the wayside as you struggle to keep up with multiple project timelines.

While taking on multiple projects may seem like a path to success, it’s important to remember that success isn’t just about professional achievements. A balanced life, where you can meet work commitments without compromising your personal life, is equally, if not more, important.

Final Thoughts

You can actually manage multiple projects, but only if you maintain exceptional health and a healthy lifestyle. Talented individuals often fall into the trap of leading an ordinary lifestyle while trying to tackle multiple projects simultaneously. If you aspire to be like Elon Musk, you should also adopt a lifestyle and, more importantly, maintain a level of health similar to his, which is often inherited.

Although I enjoy sharing my experiences to help others going through similar phases of life, I primarily write about productivity and healthy lifestyles. If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, please follow and subscribe. If you find my content helpful, show your appreciation by giving me a clap. Your support encourages me to create more!

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Manish Kumar

Sharing wisdom on how to become best version of yourself. Topic includes physical/mental fitness and food habits. Reading, writing, meditating along the way!