Geeking Out Since 1998

Make life a side project


Two blog posts in one week, unheard of.

That’s what you get when you cram two high-octane conferences into one week: MicroConf Europe in Prague Sunday to Tuesday and then The Web Is in Cardiff, Thursday and Friday.

I could write reams about my experiences of both extremely high quality, motivating, thought provoking and at some times very moving events – and indeed I will almost certainly expand upon some of these threads over the coming weeks –  but the thing I want to quickly focus in on today is something that Christopher Murphy said which really resonated with me, summed up here by Dan Davies:

Tweet by Dan Davies

“But hang on”, I hear you say, “life is THE project, right? Why would we push out to the sidelines?”

Well, the statement needs to be taken in context and that context was a discussion about geek mental help week – something I’ve already written about – and the pressure that a lot of us find ourselves under to not only be good at our jobs, to earn the money, but to also keep up with the fast pace of technology change, to know which one of the 17 javascript frameworks to study (this week!), to keep our blogs up to date, to have a podcast, to do public speaking and a multitude of other pressures that we might find ourselves under especially – as Rachel Andrew so neatly and perfectly summed it up – if we lose sight of the fact that the output of our peers, their status updates, their instagram photos are just their highlight reels, not their hum drum day-to-day.

Luckily for me those external pressures, certainly the comparing oneself to peers, isn’t something I particularly suffer with (ok, I probably do it a bit, but I can quickly discard those thoughts). The pressures I suffer from are slightly different. They are self-inflicted, it’s my inner critic who is my task master. He drives me hard to ‘achieve’, to be constantly looking forwards to see where I’ll be and more often than not he doesn’t allow to stop, to have a look around and enjoy where I am right now.

So for me, to keep Mr rarely-cuts-me-some-slack Critic in his box I particularly like the idea of treating life as one of my projects. A very important one for sure but one which we can forget, something that can get pushed to the bottom of the list as a discretionary item unless we’re careful to keep on top of it.

With life as a project it can be scheduled, it can be given the high priority that it deserves but we can still fit it in around other competing pressures. That works for me.

A bit of a mess

Whilst I have a relatively good, sometimes even working system of storing all of my ideas, projects & thoughts loosely based on GTD I do really value mind-mapping as a tool to quickly download thoughts and get them out of my head.

Given I had so much floating around my head from an amazing week of insights I did a quick dump this morning as a really simple way to get that perspective again. For each of these high level tasks I can now assign the time I want to spend per day/week/month and compare that to the time I actually have available given the constraints of work, family commitments, of going to bed early, etc, and see if they are achievable. If they are not I can park them or tweak the timings. The important thing is to be sure to do the important things to me in an achievable and sustainable way.

Yes, it’s mind bogglingly obvious but thinking about life as a dependency for success – however you might define that; I know that success is a very personal thing and it does not necessarily equate to achievement – is a really nice way of looking at things and I’m really thankful for the simple reminder this week.

For me at least, having life stuff as a project means it has a much greater chance of getting done.


Update: Mike Ellis has posted a response to this article on his blog which I’m sure matches some other people’s thinking on this subject. I stand by what I said, though. If I don’t organise everything then things slip which results in me getting stressed out and that’s no good for anyone.

About the author


Hi, I'm Bealers and I use this blog to share some of the things I learn whilst I'm on my journey. If you're new to the site then you might want to start here. The best place to find me is on Instagram.

By bealers Geeking Out Since 1998

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