New ideas come to us every day. Especially those of us who have learned to be in tune with opportunities and ways to improve the world around us.
A question I get asked often is, “How do I choose which idea to do first?”.
Many times it can even go a step further. Many people want to be able to choose the one “golden idea” to focus on for the rest of their foreseeable future.
I’d like to share a few patterns I look for in an idea that help me to choose which project to work on and when.
The first thing I like to look for is whether or not a project matters to me at the core of my being. Is this idea something that I have a strong conviction about and will it keep me up at night if I didn’t do something that day that got me closer to the goal?
The next thing I look for is to ask myself if this idea can be thrown out altogether. It could be a great idea, but sometimes we know that it isn’t desirable, feasible or viable in any way, shape or form in our lives. I just let those ideas go to the next bidder.
Another pattern I look for in an idea is if I can declare this idea as a hobby. If I decide that I want to start creating art or music, and I know that my conviction isn’t to make a life out of it, I can declare these ideas as a hobby and use them to recover from my actual work.
Next, I will qualify if and when an idea could make money or support itself. If it is an idea that needs to be free or that might not see a return for months to come, that project has to be placed in a particular cubby hole in my mind due to the constraint on time. The ideas that I need for support many times need to be taken care of before these types of ideas can be explored.
If I am lucky enough to be hit with a good idea and it seems to fit all of my criteria for a good project, I’ll then see how it fits into the flow of projects already in play. If it can replace a lesser project, then I’ll need to decide what to do with the old project. Does it need to be sold, wound down slowly, or can it be abandoned altogether?
If the new idea fits into my workflow, I then try to position all of my tasks in a way that I can use one project to recover and rejuvenate from another project. If I have been spending four hours writing, then many times opening up a code editor or Sketch to design something, keeps my mind engaged in a different way. The inspiration hits a separate part of my mind than writing does and I’m able to keep working at a productive rate.
We usually don’t have enough time for more than three projects running at once depending on their intensity and need for consistency on a daily basis. We have to remember that the energy we spend needs to have a counter-balance for recovery. The key to being effective is managing your energy as well as your work.
I hope these thoughts help you in choosing the best ideas for you.