What Happens When You Take On Too Many Projects (And What To Do About It)

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

At the end of last year, I found that I’d done something I often do when one or two of my creative projects are in the early stages. It’s the stage when it’s too early to tell if it’s going to work, and so there’s a bit of fear and uncertainty around what the future of that project looks like.

I start stacking

If you were following along, you noticed that in November I started a new blog with the goal of figuring out SEO and being able to publish these newsletters somewhere. I set a goal of writing 60 posts in 60 days…and succeeded only about half the time. 

I started two new podcasts, which I promptly gave up on for a number of reasons, all of which are disappointing because I have written before about the importance of patience and consistency.

I created and launched a coaching program which I’m still pretty hyped about, but haven’t done much with, because the reception wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. That resulted in me severely underdelivering to the two people who signed up to test the program for me. 

By the end of the year I had added all of these things on top of trying to build two businesses – Craftsman Creative and Benchmark App – which when I read that back, is just crazy.

So by this time last month I started realizing what I’d done. I’d added too many projects to my plate. As Craftsman Creative started taking off in January, I felt myself go from trying to fill all the extra time each week with projects to not having enough time to give to the main ones. 

So, I consolidated this newsletter and the other one I was writing because I realized two newsletters a week wasn’t sustainable. Then I stopped writing altogether. 

I paused the coaching program. I stopped producing the podcasts.

And as I sit here now writing all of this, the lesson is that I should have been more patient and more focused. 

You don’t get more done by taking on more projects. You get more done by focusing more on the one or two projects that are the most important.

Had I focused on Craftsman Creative throughout those months when it wasn’t showing the results yet, I would be even further along, and wouldn’t feel the stress of “not having enough time in the day” right now to get everything done. 

We would have made more progress with Benchmark. 

And, I wouldn’t have overloaded my plate with so many projects and would have more room, or “slack”, in my work life to take on any new opportunities that may come my way unexpectedly. 

Like the opportunity to produce a feature film…

15 years ago I started working as a professional in the film industry. 12 years ago I wrote my first script with a business partner, and we tried to get it made by raising money. For nearly a decade we tried and tried but were never able to get a movie into production. 

Now, all these years later, after working as a producer on Relative Race the last few years, and working with two extremely talented and connected women in the Utah film industry, they asked if I’d help produce a feature. 

So, how could I say no?

Luckily, I had the littlest bit of slack in my work life, and felt like I could make it work. 

I’ve been strategically outsourcing parts of the process to make courses on Craftsman Creative, and I have a business partner in Benchmark that can take on more as I go film for a few weeks. 

But as I write this, I wonder if that’s different enough for it to not be repeating the mistakes I made at the end of last year by stacking another project when I “should” be focusing on the two businesses.

What do you think?

I’ve committed, so time will tell. 

The concerns are always around the constraints I don’t have control over:

People – I can’t make people make decisions, or do so in a timely manner. The more people with control over parts of a project, the longer projects tend to take.

Time – there’s a finite number of hours that I can work every day, and I don’t like working and not seeing my family, so I have my own constraint on how much I work. That limits what I can get done in a day/week/month/quarter.