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My Father’s Take On Getting Stuff Done: 3 “Opened” Projects

Conventional wisdom says that your best work is done when all of your resources are focused on a single project.


Well, that’s never worked for me. I’ve never been able to just work on one project for a single day (or afternoon, for that matter), without losing focus or getting plain bored with what I’m working on. Even with the help of the flow. I can only “hunker down” on a project if it really interests me, and no project can interest me for more than a couple hours at a time. So, unfortunately, my working day is filled with constantly switching between ideas and projects.

ADD? Maybe. Hereditary? Probably. It turns out my father is exactly the same way. He recently shared with me his productivity philosophy.

3 “Opened” Projects

Dad has a simple method for keeping himself busy and entertained with what he’s working on. He simply starts 3 projects at the same time. He can work on whichever he pleases throughout the day, and go back and forth as his mood permits. If he becomes bored with a task or needs to think about how to do something, he switches tasks. By the end of the day he’ll have completed, (or nearly completed), 3 different projects. This is much better than only making halfway through a single project and getting distracted.

While this approach may annoy the heck out of my mother and GTD purists alike, it’s worked for at least two generations of Stansberry men. We’re able to keep refreshed and interested in what we’re working on. I’m actually using it right now: I’m writing this post while going back and forth between two websites I’m building.

A major misconception about productivity is that if you’re “productive”, you’ll have worked all day, without a single distraction. Has anyone ever been able to do that? Not a chance. The best “productivity” method is to plan for our distractions, so we’re not sidetracked by them. My father’s method allows our projects to become distractions.

What about you? Would this approach work for you?