It’s Hard To Do Everything At Once


My plan was simple (or so I thought) and straightforward: come the end of December I would ease back on promoting The Practice of Groundedness and ratchet up on my next book project. As those of you who follow my work already know, that didn’t pan out. After about three days of the experiment, I found it way too hard to do both Groundedness promotion and new-book writing at the same time.

And let’s be real: of course this was the case. I was basically asking myself to train for a marathon and 100-meter dash at the same time. Same sport but using two completely different muscle groups. I felt absolutely drained and tired at the end of each day of trying to do both promotion and new-book writing, but I also felt like I wasn’t really making solid progress on either.

To keep our sports analogy going, this is the allure—and pitfall—of so-called “muscle confusion” training. You do everything really hard always and feel super tired but you don’t really get anywhere in terms of meaningful progress.

To be clear, I am not here arguing that anybody should only do one thing always. During this period I am also coaching, recording a podcast, parenting during a pandemic with endless school closures, and strength training. (Perhaps this is all too much; but hey, it’s just life, and when you take a broader perspective, I’ve actually got it quite easy.) What I am arguing, however, is that it’s hard to do two things that occupy the same space—in my example, creative writing energy and output—at the same time.

None of this is rocket science. It’s precisely what I’ve been telling my coaching clients forever: to make progress, less is more; have a few priorities, ideally none competing. Yet, as is becoming one of our taglines here at The Growth Eq: this is simple—but simple does not mean easy.

Perhaps some of the reason we try to do everything at once is because we are insecure. In my case, I want to start writing my next book (even though the deadline is forever from now) because there is a small (okay, maybe big) part of me that’s scared I’ll forget how to write books. But to let this insecurity encroach about upon giving Groundedness my all just doesn’t make sense, at least not in my current calculus.

In practice, I’ve decided to hold off on starting to write my next book until March. The Practice of Groundedness has a lot of momentum behind it, and I don’t want to have any regrets of not giving it my all. I believe in the book and want to do everything I can to help it become a perennial seller. Plus, there is a lot of timely and important stuff related to Groundedness that I want to write about right now. I find it interesting and I think (hope?) it helps people.

For you all, dear readers, I hope this gave you a nice little illustration on the perils of shooting for double occupancy in the same system. It’s not great in the physical world and it’s not great in the psychic world. Pick the thing you want to emphasize and emphasize that thing, ideally without leaving other important qualities completely behind.


(P.s., As an example, I spent last week writing and pitching a piece on getting through yet another tough pandemic winter. It ended up in GQ, and you can read it here. There is no way I would have been able to do this had I also been trying to write my next book. What would have happened is a crappy and unplaced article and a crappy half a chapter of a book.)

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1 comment

  • Hi! Thank you for this important reminder.

    I found the GQ article immensely helpful, too. Since we moved to Helsinki some years ago, I’ve found a foolproof mental trick to get through Novembers, which are notoriously dark and damp: I anticipate zero hours of sunshine, loads of rain, and a down-in-the-dumps general mood. Then, whenever the sun actually shines (even if it’s only 5–10 hours over the whole month), it feels like a great gift, and at the end of the month, I invariably think, “Wow, a miracle – November wasn’t so bad this year!” It doesn’t matter that I know I am fooling myself.

    The GQ article helped me realize that I can apply this strategy to our family and working life right now, which — with 4 young un(der)vaccinated children and the unpredictable work hours this entails, along with worries about getting sick and not being able to take care of them — has been psychologically quite heavy lately.

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