How I Pursue Multiple Big Goals At Once

It's no secret that I refuse to pick just one project to pursue at a time. Over the course of any given week I'm posting on here, writing a novel, working on music, working with clients and starting up a business, so some real structure and a solid game plan are essential. People like to say that you can't properly put energy into multiple avenues at once; although I probably wouldn't recommend taking on quite as much as I have, I don't think that's true. Plenty of people have multiple passions and excel in various fields simultaneously - it's just a matter of scheming. Here are my personal tips for pursuing multiple big goals at once.

Cost/Benefit Analysis
If you're going to be going after multiple goals, you need to know they're all worth it. Realistically, the more you have on your plate the harder it is to make consistent progress in each, so it's important to have a clear list of what pursuing each goal will cost you - consider time, resources and emotional factors - and what the potential benefits are. For example the cost of running a business is high both financially and time-wise, but the benefits are also considerable. Writing a novel is time consuming and may not have any guaranteed surface-level benefit, but if it's a goal that's important to you then the act of making progress will have a positive impact on your overall happiness. Basically know why you're doing things, and make sure they're worth it. If something really doesn't seem to have benefits equal to the costs, assess why it is that you're so attached to pursuing it.

Batching just means getting a large amount of one sort of task done in a big chunk, like filming a month's worth of Youtube videos in a day or taking photos for multiple blog posts at once. The theory is that when you settle into completing one kind of activity, you'll get through the same workload more quickly than you would starting and stopping. It saves you time setting up and getting into the right mood, and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the specific kind of task you're getting done. It also means that once you're finished you have taken that task off your plate for a considerable period of time, freeing up time and energy for other things. When it comes to batching, don't force it - it's meant to make life easier, not harder. If the idea of taking ten Instagram photos in one go stresses you out more than just taking them day by day, don't batch that activity. If you feel like recording four episodes of your podcast back to back will cut down your stress and workload, try it out. I find writing blog posts in bulk a lot more efficient than writing one every week, so every month or so I set aside a few days and write as many posts as I can so that I know I'll have content to go up and I can concentrate fully on other things. If I feel like writing in between batches or there's something time-sensitive that I want to post, I will. The important thing is knowing I have content ready to go and don't need to worry about it until my next batch day.

Strict Daily Non-Negotiables
Regardless of whether the rest of my day is through the roof productive or a complete dud, I have a small list of non-negotiable tasks that I do not allow myself to skip. These are things that directly relate to a specific goal (exercise, vocal scales), or improve my overall mindset (meditation, journaling). Your non-negotiables will be specific to you, but if you're looking for a place to start I'd suggest thinking of 3-5 activities that add up to two hours or less. These things need to be realistic for you to complete every single day, and you'll need to be strict with yourself, so it's safer to start small and add more, rather than overload yourself initially and give up.

Having Clear Goals In Every Area
This is perhaps the most important point. Know what you're working towards with every single goal, and have at least your first few steps toward that goal clarified. Working towards multiple goals is absolutely not going to be possible unless you know what it is that you're working towards, and are able to keep track of that progress. For more on how I set and accomplish goals, check out this post.

Keeping Track of All Deliverables & Productivity
You need to know what your all goals are, what content you need to create & put out, what action steps you need to take, what your deadlines are, and how well you're progressing. The key here is organisation, lists and developing a system that works for you. Keep your goals visible, your deliverables clear and your progress tracked. I keep track of my ongoing progress using my Sims Chart, along with different tiers of goals & to do lists.

Dedicating an Hour a Day to Music
This is specific to me. In the past when I've been particularly busy music has been the priority that was left behind, because it doesn't really intersect with any of my other goals and there is no one to hold me accountable if I let it go. Unfortunately, letting it go makes me feel like absolute crap, because singing and writing music are integral parts of my personal identity. My solution to this ongoing problem was to specifically dedicate an hour a day to music; even if I miss a day or two a week I'm still making progress, and the simple knowledge that I am still prioritising it boosts my mood and makes it easier to concentrate on other things. Your version of this may be spending an hour every night painting, or writing 500 words of your novel every morning. If you have hobby or passion project you're afraid will fall by the wayside, scheduling time to make steady progress - no matter how gradual - will improve your overall happiness a surprising amount.

Delegating Certain Tasks to Weekends/Free Time
Separating Weekday Activities and Weekend Activities has been really helpful for me. For example, my novel is something that I love to work on, but it isn't a high priority, so I tend to keep it out of my working week. There will be exceptions to this, like if I have a low-intensity work week and really want to make some progress, but having it compartmentalised as a leisure time activity helps me to balance everything else. Before I made this shift I spent a lot of my work time thinking that I should be writing instead or vice versa, and I was never fully committed to whichever way I decided to use my time, so having a clear idea of what belongs where/when is vital.

Hear me out. 'Multitasking' in the traditional sense has been proven to enormously reduce the efficiency of both (or all) activities you're juggling, and is a practice I'm trying to train myself out of. Pairing up two truly compatible activities, however, is a fab way to get more done. I build my Pinterest queue while I do my vocal exercises, in the spirit of my post on pursuing value I listen to podcasts while I cook and clean and I try to keep time-wasting phone games as an activity for the gym.

Working Smart
Down time is a non-negotiable, as are your other goals, so maximising the time you spend working on anything is vital. When you waste time you're stealing it from one of your other goals, and when you half-ass your workday you're also pretty much ensuring that your work stress will leak into your down time. This is something that's much more easily said than done, but it really is one of the most important principles to grasp when you want to achieve big things. I try to follow the 80/20 Rule - 20% of our activities will account for 80% of our results, so it's important to identify those key activities and prioritise them above everything else.

Scheduling Ahead
This one goes along with batching and is also a bit of a no-brainer. Scheduling whatever possible ahead of time (blog posts, Youtube videos, instagram posts, Pinterest queue, tweets promoting specific content) helps to keep your output consistent in the most low-stress way possible. Scheduling ahead prevents that mad scramble to put something subpar together last minute, or pushing back more urgent tasks to do something that could have been finished weeks before. My mentality is that if it's possible to get something off my plate ahead of time, I should, and although it takes a bit of effort to get ahead at the start it makes things much easier in the long run.

Not Trying to Tackle Everything at Once
A huge part of pursuing multiple things at once is not actually trying to do everything at once. Some weeks you won't have time to work on one area, and that's okay. If a mid-level area has to take a back seat to allow for concentrated efforts on your #1 priority, that's fine. It's also okay to postpone something in order to dedicate more attention to something more pressing. This is why it's so important to have a clear idea of your hierarchy of priorities and, in the spirit of batching & scheduling ahead, it's vital that you be willing to sometimes focus solely on making headway in one area in order to get things running smoothly.

Building a Foundation in One Area & Building On It
Instead of trying to master five things at once, get settled into one and then add another, and don't add the next thing until you have that one sorted. It's easier to add things on top of an established routine or a familiar workload than it is to try and get multiple things off the ground at once. Trying to jump into everything at once is the easiest way to discourage yourself and burn out, so pick the most vital goal and get that sorted before adding anything else. 

Consuming content intelligently
Max Joseph of Catfish fame made this video about reading, and in it he introduced the concept of a Content Diet. This is something I plan on writing an entire post about, but basically it's the idea of viewing the content you consume in the same way you would your diet. Mindlessly consuming content with no real intention can be damaging (although some 'pointless' content can still have benefits, like how I find this one woman painting dolls v relaxing #nojudgement), while on the other hand being smart about what you listen to, watch or read can have fab benefits. I try to apply this by listening to podcasts about business and writing, regularly researching things that interest me on Pinterest and watching videos about topics that relate to my goals. I still watch absolute trash from time to time, and most of the content I consume is still for fun rather than intellectual gain, but the more aware I am of what I'm consuming and why, the less I find my time running away from me.

Figure Out Where Your Goals Overlap
This is a tricky one to execute and to explain. I guess the most accessible example is that sometimes there are topics like this blog post that are relevant to both my personal brand and my business, so I can post this on here and then repurpose points for a story on Social Scheming (this is slightly contradicted in the next point, but as with everything the key here is to use your own judgement and do what works). Another way this comes into play is when I can do research on one subject and have it apply to more than one of my goals, for instance learning more about marketing strategy helps me with my work and my personal brand, as well as future planning for when I eventually have a book to promote. Building up my Pinterest also benefits multiple goals I'm working towards, and once I restart Youtube that will be a platform I can use for both my personal and professional brands. Chances are a lot of your goals overlap in more than one way, you just need to figure out how everything works together and which tasks or activities can move you forward in multiple ways at once.

Respect Mental Boundaries
I get overwhelmed if I don't keep my personal and professional brands separate, at least to some extent. That means I don't batch blog content for here at the same time as posts for my website, and don't post much about my work on my personal Instagram. I'm trying to create such a high volume of content that I need to have a sense of where everything belongs, and in order to maintain that I have to keep some clear mental boundaries. My advice here is just to work in a way that allows your mind to really understand what's going on and keep your different goals separate. If you can tackle similar tasks all at once like I mentioned in the last point then that's amazing, but if that feels overwhelming, respect that and work with it. Try to keep the tasks that are a bit too close to each other deliberately separate. Batch Youtube videos in Week A and write blog content in Week B. Do brand-building exercises exclusively on Tuesdays, and reach out to new clients on Wednesdays. Use activities that are very clearly Column A or Column B as a buffer between tasks that may otherwise be too similar.

Respect Boundaries In General
Set rules and boundaries and accept them as valid. One of my boundaries is that I will not check or reply to emails during time I have designated for other tasks. I don't have to be accessible 24/7, and no one owns my time unless they're specifically paying for it. If you set a boundary that you don't respond to business emails past 6pm, respect that. If you set a boundary that you don't allow clients to contact you on your personal phone number, stick to it. Don't trick yourself into feeling as though you have to hide during your down time either - you're entitled to down time, and time dedicated to other tasks. You're allowed to be active on social media during the time that you're not checking or replying to emails. I found this shift really difficult at first, but the more I realise the world doesn't implode if I spend a few hours cut off, the easier it becomes. I'm working on setting more clear boundaries when it comes to client work, and the more progress I make the less stressed I am. Boundaries help me to give myself permission to work on whatever I need to without guilt or disruption.

Use Your Passions to Boost Your Mood & Productivity
This ties back in to the point I made earlier about how I work on music daily. Depriving yourself of activities that bring you joy in order to be more productive actually has the opposite effect. We need free time and pastimes and to feel creatively fulfilled in order to operate at our highest capacity. If I'm feeling completely burnt out I'll close down everything I'm working on and spend some time doing something creative. Similarly, sometimes just knowing that I have time set aside for music or painting or writing etc. later on settles that restless part of my brain and helps me to concentrate on the task at hand.

Designate Non-Negotiable Down Time
Although I do delegate some things like writing my novel to 'down time' I also make sure to give myself time to fully switch off. No work going on in the background, no nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me I should be doing something productive, just time that I have specifically scheduled to do absolutely nothing. Recharging is just as important as working hard, because if you don't give yourself enough time and space to decompress you'll burn out and your productivity will suffer.

Be Comfortable With Slow & Steady
If you're spreading your efforts out rather than going all in on just one thing, it's likely to take a bit longer to reach those big milestones. I don't at all believe that working on three goals means you'll reach them all three times slower, but it's just common sense that it will be a little bit more tricky. Additionally, different efforts will pay off at different times, and it's likely you'll find yourself faced with multiple stretches of time during which all your different projects are at the 'keep your head down, work hard and hope for the best' stage. Don't get discouraged. The upside of that is a little bit further down the track when everything comes to life and you find yourself having achieved a combination of feats everybody told you wouldn't be simultaneously possible. You never know when things are going to take off, or which area is going to start paying off first, so keep your mind on your own priorities and just keep going.

Remind Yourself Why You're Doing What You're Doing
I list a 'why' beneath each of my goals, and read through the list regularly. If you're lacking drive or motivation, it may be because you've lost sight of why you're putting in the work. Review your goals daily, keep note of why it is that you want to achieve them and where you see yourself ending up, and use that as your ultimate guide.

Stop Making Excuses, Stop Procrastinating and Commit.
The biggest factor keeping you from accomplishing your goals is likely to be your own inaction. Whether that comes in the form of talking yourself out of things, or wasting time on inefficient or irrelevant tasks, I can pretty much guarantee something that you're doing quite regularly is sabotaging your productivity and therefore your chances at achieving your goals. If you really can't commit to something, it's time to either reassess whether it's really worth it or do some serious internal work to uncover the root of what's holding you back. Stop making excuses and make it happen.