Okay, so I've got a personal theory about how much any one person can do before everything they're trying to do suffers. It's a trend that I've noticed in my own life over the course of the last few years.
I think we can do three things really well. When we try to add a fourth or a fifth thing to our list, everything we're trying to do suffers. We can't be great moms (or dads), and great writers, and great co-workers, and great critique partners, and great friends, and great wives (or husbands), and great service-givers all at the same time.
I believe there are constants that we should implant into the first couple of slots, and then constantly rotate the third spot to what needs to get done.
For example, my first two slots are 1. Family, and 2. Work. I need to be on top of things at home. I need to sign homework slips, and make dinner, and schedule appointments, get cars fixed, drive kids to activities, etc. That always comes first.
I need to be a good teacher. I need to be dedicated to work during work hours, and I need to feel value in what I do at school.
Those two cannot budge. If I take work out of the rotation and fill it with something else, that's bad--and not only for me. Same goes with my family.
So there's one more slot. What do I fill it with? What do I dedicate my non-working, non-family-devoted hours to?
For several months, it's been going to the gym. Exercising takes a lot of time and mental energy for me. I don't have much left to give at the end of the day when it's filled with family, work, and healthy eating/exercising.
Which has been great, considering that I haven't needed to focus on anything else--including writing. I feel like my routine is more settled now, and that I could occasionally swap out that third thing -- the gym -- with writing.
I can compartmentalize my hours much better now, having realized that I can't do All The Things all the time.
So my days now look something like this:
3. Gym until 6:00 PM
3.1. Writing until exhausted
That's not really four things, lest some of you think it is. I cannot focus on going to the gym if I'm worried about not having enough time to write. I can't write if I don't first dedicate the time needed to go to the gym.
They're swappable, not coinciding. I hope that makes sense.
So I'm constantly swapping out the third thing, sometimes even on a daily basis.
What do you think? Can you do more than three things simultaneously -- and do them well?