The Destructive Habit Of Taking Too Much On And Spreading Yourself Too Thinly

In this modern age we are led to believe that we should be constantly busy and that we should be doing several things at once. The old saying ‘you are a long time dead’ is often said by people trying to cram a lot of things into their lives but doing too much is actually very damaging to your potential success, your life and often your health.

This is something that I have done many times in the past and have been close to doing it again recently but I am trying to manage it by delaying some things that I need and want to get done until the New Year.

If I didn’t then the chances are that all of the things that I need or want to do will not be finished or at least finished in the best way possible. When you are doing too much you simply cannot give the proper focus and attention that each task/job requires and that just leads to them not being finished or as I mentioned earlier, they will be finished but they will not be to the standard that you hoped for or even planned.

(There is a true story towards the bottom of this post that highlights the dangers perfectly of taking on too much and spreading yourself thinly.)

Currently I am doing my Minions work, trying to learn hypnotherapy, doing several major DIY projects to my home, writing a couple of books and much more. As I am a qualified joiner have been asked by my parents to do some work at their home which would also involve some plastering and as my plasterer friends are so swamped with work lately I considered doing the plastering myself which would mean me having to learn how to plaster like a professional.

I checked out a few crash courses online and found that the nearest intensive plastering course is a four day course about an hours drive away. I even asked a friend if he would teach me and he agreed but I realised that I just could not do it right not, especially as Christmas is approaching fast.

I have had to shelve that idea for now and plan it for the New Year along with writing my books and learning the hypnotherapy which fortunately is an ongoing online course already paid for and I can come back to when I am ready.

If I carried on trying to do all the things now that I want to do then nothing would be completed, there would be unfinished jobs around the house (as I write this there are but I am working on them when I get the time… honest!) and my writing would suffer greatly because everytime I try and do half hour here or an hour there I get lost and cannot get into a real creative flow.

In fact I spend most of my precious ‘book writing’ time trying to remember what has happened and who did what and when as well as figuring out where I had last been editing.

I have a plan of how the story goes and pre wrote a basic backbone to the story and the main chapters and now I am going through the different sections ‘fattening’ them out with new dialogue and better structure so you can see it gets confusing when I haven’t written anything for a fortnight.

my writing

I have now moved the deadline for the book to the middle of next year and no longer work on it to free up time for other more important and pressing tasks.

Once those tasks are completed and have been ticked off then I shall start writing again, it has taken a lot of effort and conscious decision making to get myself to prioritise certain jobs and tasks over others and to then postpone those lesser priority tasks.

Why? Because I want and need to do them all and I want to accomplish them all now. Which is dangerous thinking.

The truth is though that I cannot do them all now, I was failing miserably and I only have myself to blame. As a writer I know full well that writers generally finish one book before they start another and very often lock themselves away from the world to really focus on that one job avoiding much of the everyday demands of life.

And so here I am trying to do many separate jobs along with all of the everyday demands of life and getting nowhere.This might sound pretty obvious to you, it is to me and yet I catch myself doing it every now and then and what is incredible is that loads of people do it and simply do not realise.

I come from a family where it was considered wrong to be single minded and obsessive about certain things but the truth is that kind of thinking is wrong… it is being single minded and obsessive about one or a few things that lead to them being finished quicker and at a higher quality too.

I am not talking about the manic obsessiveness that some people have which drives them to do dangerous and foolish things but a healthy obsession which drives you to finish something to the best of your ability and then, when it has been completed, you start another task and obsess about it until it is done.

Obviously life gets in the way and it is not always easy to focus on just the one task especially when you need to earn money, spend time with the family or doing things to improve the home and family life like the DIY projects that I have going on at the moment which are numerous but you can limit yourself to a smaller number of jobs and focus on them until they are done.

If you don’t then you have taken on too much and you are spreading yourself and your efforts out too thinly. The chances are that you will not get things finished, or if you do they will likely be substandard..

I want to finish off with a true story of someone I know who had the courage at an early age to buy an ex council depot, it was a huge property and he had a vision of turning it into his home, several flats and a couple of commercial properties. It was a big development that required a lot of borrowed money and it was a huge undertaking for someone in his early twenties.

After owning the property for nearly 18 years he was forced to sell it after he and his wife divorced. They were divorced because the development was not finished, living in it for nearly 16 years with a young child had put a big strain on the relationship. The property was still not finished when it was finally sold this year leaving him with a lot of large debts still.

For 18 years the developer jumped from one task to another, he would start a big job like adding a second floor to the first flat which originally was a single story building but once the windows and roof were fitted to the new storey he started another project such as knocking down the old workshop and building three new flats which needed further funding from the bank.

When the brickwork shell of those three new flats were built and the roof and windows were fitted he then started something else ‘big’ requiring more money . Occasionally he would drop onto those ‘previous’ jobs that he had started but as each week passed his list of jobs and tasks that he was working on grew.

The list of things to finish off was also growing and the list of things that were ‘not finished’ was not only growing it had not changed much over several years. Windows were made and fitted but were never painted for many years. Stairwells to flats were built but also never finished, the old dilapidated roof was replaced with a new one but the fascia boards and guttering were never fitted and had stayed like that for almost 18 years.

The time came when the property values dropped, the bank wanted its money back and the wife had had enough and decided to leave taking the daughter with him. His world crashed big time and he was left with no option but to put the property up for sale,

Sadly the development was bought by the ex wife’s brother, for a price that was half of what it could be worth finished, and within a few short months many of those ‘unfinished’ tasks were completed and the development was starting to look finished.

That is because they created a simple to do list, they prioritised what needed doing first, what they needed to spend money on and when and they needed to do it.

They only focused on those prioritised jobs until they were completed before moving onto other work. Unfortunately if my friend had done that from the beginning the development would have been finished 15 or so years ago and he would probably still would have been the owner and still married.

So it is with that sad but true story that I reiterate the dangers of taking on too much and spreading yourself too thinly because if you do, you are setting yourself up to not accomplish your goals and quite possibly lose a lot more than you expect.

Oh and by the way, the sad but true story does have a happy ending, he is now in a new relationship and they have had a child together and he is living a less stressful life and pretty happy. 🙂