Have you ever tried to download a number of large files to your computer at the same time? If you’ve purchased a TV series through iTunes or received high-resolution pictures from an important event that you couldn’t wait to view, you can probably identify with this scenario.
You sit impatiently as the progress bar barely creeps toward completion—one painful percentage point by painful percentage point. Maybe you get up from your chair, spend a few minutes doing something to take your mind off of the files, and return a bit later only to find that not a single file is complete yet. Argh! If you can manage somehow to sit long enough to watch this mind-numbing process, one file eventually finishes. Hurrah! Then another. And another. Soon enough the progress accelerates as fewer files remain in the queue and eventually the download is complete. The waiting is over.
Lately my life has been feeling like a collection of slow simultaneous computer downloads. My “files” include a book, a podcast, a new professional website, a training, and a number of consulting ventures. Although I’m disciplined enough to work on each of them at least semi-regularly, each effort gets a much smaller portion of my attention than if I were to focus on a single project. Even if I were able to shift my energies to completing only one of these at a time, all of them are collaborative endeavors involving other people. In the end a lot of the progress is beyond my control.