This week’s column is a follow-up to last week’s column. Last week, the topic was how to set binary focus to achieve goals. This week, it’s an exploration of the ways in which split focus can prevent us from reaching ’em. Because it’s not enough to just be “clocked in” for the goal; succeeding at achievement often requires that we’re also not going for too many things at once.

If you’re like most creatives, you regularly have a list of ten things (okay, maybe twenty) that are begging for your attention. You have passion projects and great ideas and script concepts and marketing hooks and a to-do list of things about which you’re maybe not quite as passionate but they lead to things about which you ARE more passionate (whether that’s the *next* project or collaboration with a particular person or perhaps a paycheck) and sometimes it just gets “all too much” to start.

As much as I love having a bunch of things to work on, I know that split focus is one sure way to never really get much moved forward. As the saying goes, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Y’all know I love seeing the work of the hyphenate as that of a master chef, wherein we’re constantly working on several components to a perfect meal and that certainly requires what some would call split focus, but I’d argue that the chef analogy is one in which there is ONE focus (the excellent meal) with many different elements (all the dishes, their ingredients, the timing and ultimately the presentation of it all).

Let’s say you’re working on a script you hope to produce but also updating your website with your latest bio and new credits, all the while knowing that you need to finally monetize that PDF version of the handy email you keep sharing with your friends (you know the one — filled with all the resource links that you take for granted you know about, but that is a treasure for someone who is seeking exactly those resources, so well organized and lovingly shared).

Okay, great. That’s at least three things that you’re moving forward at once, and getting specific about where your focus is will help you get things knocked off the list much faster than hoping to “tackle the to-do list” ever will.

I’ll ask you to create a list of the things you need to do, placed in order of “what gets done with the least amount of work” on down to “what takes forever to get done” — because when you’re able to tackle a quick thing, starting at the top of that list will give you a great feeling of accomplishment, whereas a list ranked by some other criteria (most important, most stressful, has been on this dang list the longest, whatever) might never lead to getting something actually done. This is your TIME list.

I’ll ask you to create a different version of this list in which you go from “what leads to money” on down to “what’s done for passion only” and that same sort of flow applies: If you’re in need of money, you start at the top of a list that gets you paid first. Finally invoicing that client for the photo retouching you did months ago gets money flowing in and that helps you feel better about the pressure that may have been blocking you creatively, because now you have a payday on its way. This is your MONEY list.

Finally, I’ll ask you to create the most fun version of the list, which is the one in which you list from “what turns me on the most” down to “what’s something I’d be fine never doing again, ever” in nature. This is your PASSION list.

Whenever you are getting down to the tasking of your life, whether it’s writing that email to your agent to discuss the latest check that has been held by a client for a bit too long or banging out a scene on the script you promised your improv troupe you’d start writing based on that great jam session you had together, you can come at your list(s) without split focus. You can choose, “Time for a money task,” or “Time for a passion task,” or when you only have a minute, “Time for a time task.”

And on those days when you’re sure you should be doing *something* to move your list forward but don’t know exactly where to start, you can base your choice on criteria that lines up with what you’d like to make happen next. Or you can take a look at all three lists and pick the thing that’s highest on each in common!

This is a great way to get things done that serve various areas of your life and without much stress, day to day. You’ll find that suddenly you’re more productive, more in tune with what needs to be moved forward next, and more in love with the process of achievement than ever before. Yay, you!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001960.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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