the decision blog

so many interests, so little time

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One problem that I’ve seen come up a lot working with others, and that I’ve struggled with myself in the past, is feeling torn by all the things we want to do given that we have limited time to invest in them. How do we decide what to do?

I feel very conscious that there is no magic bullet here, and hesitant to offer advice without knowing specifics. At the same time, perhaps some people will find the following approach helpful:

First, write a list of everything you value that would lead you to choose a specific activity or skill set to develop. When I worked through this step I ended up with about thirty different values.

Afterward, try to shrink that list by eliminating entries that seem very similar to one another or subsuming the values you wrote down under more general categories. See if you can narrow the values down to four, five, or even less.

These values then become attributes you can use to rank the different activities that are vying for your attention, e.g., with a linear model.

Second, if the top ranked activities from the first step were made to form a Venn diagram, is there some specialty (real or imagined) that would live in the region where all or many of them overlap?

If so, then pursuing that specialty is a way to unify your pursuit of those areas; if there is no significant overlap, then perhaps there are still ways to use the top ranked activities to help achieve your other daily goals.

This second part requires not just creativity but luck: Maybe there’s a little patchwork island made up of the things you love, and it’s only a matter of discovering it.

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