I left full-time employment not long ago with the idea in my mind to change how I live and work.
I wanted to try different things and find something new.
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve tried a lot of different things.
Freelancing. Writing. Startups. Growing my social audience. Side projects. Trade crypto. On the list goes…
Some have worked out, some have not. Either way, I’ve been fortunate to have the experience.
However, what I learnt the hard way was that I needed to be razor sharp with my focus.
1 — I was spreading myself too thin
Shortly after leaving my job, I was trying to see what would stick.
At one stage, while I was designing, testing and documenting the product for my startup, I was also trying to learn how to code, creating YouTube videos, write Medium articles, find more freelance work, grow my social audience, manage my money, keep fit and do general life.
There are plenty of people that work harder than me, I have no doubt about this.
As time went by, I realised I wasn’t doing any one thing enough. I was jumping between too many different things.
My social audience was growing ever so slowly, I was struggling to get Medium articles out, I had a meagre 10 YouTube followers — you get the idea.
I decided to focus only on the things I deemed most important. I gave up coding for the moment, doubled down on my startup and decided writing was important.
2 — I needed to maximise my output
Most of you reading have probably heard about the concept of opportunity cost.
In a nutshell —
If you’re a designer, you maximise your time by doing design work instead of say struggling to do the company’s accounting.
I’ve always kept this concept close to my heart. I feel better and more useful when I’m being efficient.
I love to learn new things, but I always stop and ask myself —
How many things should I really be learning at one time? How much time should I give to these areas?
I found that having a balance of time spent doing at what I do best and learning was critical to staying focused and moving forward.
3 — I ended up with too many goals
As I was trying new things, I started adding new goals to my list.
Before long, I had a list of 20+ goals.
Some may say that you can never have too many goals, but for me I found having too many goals was akin to spreading myself too thin. For me, the problem was —
Every time I sat in front of 20 goals, I got confused. Where to start?!
I started to think closely about my goals. Some weren’t feasible at the moment. For others, I decided that I could get tricky and use some goals to boost others.
Growing my Twitter audience meant I could leverage that to get more eyeballs to my YouTube videos instead of creating 7videos a week.
Sure, this didn’t always work out — but a few times it did.
When I had 1,000 Twitter followers, sharing my YouTube video on Twitter yielded little to nothing. Now, with 4,000+, sharing a video immediately nets me about 10–20 views within minutes.
Not much really — yet. Still a work in progress here!
This being said, I still haven’t mastered it.
I’m constantly re-jigging my attention schedule. Priorities change, and so too does my attention. Like any good A/B test, we always need to find out what works.
Nathan Allsopp is a Sydney-based Product Manager/Designer.