This has a good side effect: when I'm procrastinating on my expected work, I end up doing one of these new tasks which are always focused in learning new abilities or improving forgotten hobbies.
It also has a bad side effect: stress and problems from context switching. Having too many tasks at once has a very taxing effect, as all Getting Things Done people know.
Where does the name come from?
Then I realised that, in some sense, I act exactly the same with respect to my projects. I add them, work a little on them... And I am unable to give up on them, I'm always coming up to old, discarded projects. Do you share this problem with me?
Usually, the moment I decide to drop a project from my schedule is not because I don't enjoy it. It is either because I have found a shinier task or because my usual schedule got tighter (for example, because I have to give classes).
This means that the letting go was not because it was uninteresting, it was because there were not enough resources. When in some future moment I have more resources available, I want to tackle this again!
Minimising the trouble
First keep track of all your projects: Have a list (computerised is better) with all your projects. If possible, add colours to indicate which are ongoing, which are on hold. Remove the finished ones.
A problem of this approach is that you may be overwhelmed after seeing so many projects, all together. Sort them as active and inactive, and if possible, hide the inactive ones from view when you want to see your project map.
Don't stress out about having too many projects. Detach from them any sense of time-frame, outcome or deadline. You have to treat them like you treat ads in a webpage. Ignore them unless they are your focus for the moment.
Second work on them on a weekly basis: There is no problem in having a ton of projects at the same time, you only need to manage them correctly. And the only way to do so, is by working on them.
A project is like a plant. Some of them are cacti, others are orchyds. In any case, they need to be taken care, at most on a weekly basis. Some can survive with two weeks of inattention, and some need to be worked on daily.
Once a week, review your list of ongoing projects. Add a tick to the projects you have worked on last week, and add a cross to the ones you didn't. If for some unknown reason you have worked in a project which was held, add a tick to it. Every two weeks review your project list.
- Ongoing projects with two ticks are ongoing
- Ongoing projects with one tick and one cross are to be re-assessed
- Ongoing projects with two crosses should be put on hold
- Held projects with one or two ticks should be moved to the ongoing list
When there is something that no longer interests you, or that has been superseded by bigger tasks don't be afraid to remove it from your list. I stopped playing chess seriously when I was 17, but didn't remove it from my mental list of tasks until I started to play Go when I was 20 or 21. I found the game of Go much more appealing, and completely superseded playing chess.
These are the solutions I use for this problem. What is your approach to project hoarding?
If you enjoyed this post, please take 2 minutes to subscribe to mostlymaths.net newsletter. If you don't have time right now, share this post with the share buttons below. Thanks!