Infinite Juggling

Focusing on ONE thing at a time
Jan 6, 2021

I'm guilty of over-estimating my ability to prioritize.

There was a mindset I built in architecture school that believed grit plus planning could solve anything. I knew the mantra "work smart, not hard." I did both. The challenge though is that "working smart" is not a singular thing. The most self-reflective person in the world could be super analytical about one dimension of their process, but blind to another. A smart person can build a digital system to manage 50 projects at once, and a hard-working person can juggle them, but that doesn't mean it's worth it.

My thought is that "working smart" is a wide concept instead of a deep one. Maybe there are a handful of core facets on what it means to work smart. And maybe being blind to just one of these lessons can keep you in a loop, regardless of your efforts. A loose screw can keep you juggling forever, when you can actually just drop the pins and hop the fence instead. I'm suspecting that my loose screw is "prioritizing." I have a tendency to take on much more than I can chew on. It's commendable for one person to simultaneously try to build a company, start a band, write a novel, learn to code, build an audience, run a book club, plan a wedding, work full-time, and feed the chickens, but it's damn silly.

There is an idea called "The One Thing," that is starting to help me out. There are different ways to interpret it. The most radical interpretation is to drop everything, take a risk and go all-in one thing, whatever that is. But I think there are more balanced ways to think about it. The idea also works on many scales, from the minutia of how to manage a backlog od ideas, to big picture vision.


ADD, Cut the fat, Synergy

Backlogs & Pipelines


  • Backlog of 10s or 100s of potential ideas
  • Tempting to kick along many at once, but pick one at a time
  • "How to Write One Song" by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy
  • Forces you to complete a thing, so you can make time for new things
  • If inspiration comes, start it, and finish it on the spot
  • Check backlog once a week, and set scope in advance (for a week)
  • Make it so when you show up to do a thing, you don't have to decide what to do

Essential Habits


  • One Thing is not about severing off important facets of life (health, music, etc,)
  • But in any given facet, there are many things you could be doing
  • One Thing is about picking the most effective habit to keep that thing alive and well
  • If you're into music, you could learn covers, learn music theory, learn guitar scales, analyze the rhythm of melodies, get better at drums, find new ableton plug-ins, record demos, etc.
  • No way you can make a habit out of all these things
  • Idea is to form a single habit related to music, and in pursuit of that habit, you cover all the other things.
  • Helps to pick a habit tied to publishing and sharing
  • If the habit is release a demo per week, then you'll naturally come across a lot of those other facets as you work towards that one goal.

Unifying Theme


  • Different facets of your life can all point to a common theme
  • Chipping away at an idea through a bunch of different mediums
  • Idea of the "Metaverse"
    • 3D Modeling & Game Engines to bring geometry into social VR
    • Reading & writing simulation fiction
    • Writing speculative non-fiction
    • Master the Microbrute, sci-fi bend on songwriting & lyrics



| Twitter - NFTs - michael@michaeldean.site - 2021 |