Imagine this: you're staring at piles of items, to do lists, calendar notations and scattered supplies. Meanwhile, random reminders cross your mind -- things like, "I really should practice my tuba today", "When was the last time I submitted my reel to anyone?" and/or "I promised myself I'd start walking more." When you are juggling several talents, it’s easy to find yourself in the midst of cranial chaos. You've got to get organized to get things done. Step One is sorting out what, exactly you have to do so that you can work on specific projects, start helpful practices, establish good habits and overcome bad habits.

Let's look at each of these.

What is a Project?

A project is a series of activities all aimed at producing some tangible or concrete result. A project is finite and definable. It could be something small and relatively quick – like researching submission guidelines or filing wayward papers or completing a grant application – or something more complex and long term, for example writing a screenplay, designing a building, developing a workshop, making a quilt, getting an agent, composing an opera, etc.

A particular project may use more than one talent. For example, making a CD may involve composing, arranging, managing musicians, playing different instruments, singing, producing, mixing, graphic design, photography, devising a marketing plan, promoting, performing and more.

Take a moment to get organized: what projects are on your 'to do' list? How important are they, relative to each other?

People differ in terms of how many projects at a time they can juggle. Some need to focus exclusively on one at a time. Others can pursue one major 'prime' project while spending less time/energy/resources on smaller, secondary projects. A few can juggle numerous projects at once. You probably know what’s right for you but if you want to try different options, consider these time management strategies.

Major, long-term projects can be planned -- broken down into specific steps along a particular timeline for completion. Planning has many benefits for multi-talented people. Here are some planning tips.

Practices & Habits

Unlike Projects, Practices and Habits, in contrast, aren’t necessarily connected to some finite end result or product. But they are still an important part of getting organized -- of organizing what you would like to do -- and what you'd rather not do.

Practices and Habits are regular, recurring activities. They might support, directly or indirectly, progress on a project (for example, the practice of writing at least a page a day will contribute to the completion of novel – that’s precisely how John Grisham began his writing career) or, then again, they might not: Playing guitar for an hour a day might be a very pleasurable practice in its own right, for example.

There’s something about the word ‘practice’ that implies a commitment to develop or improve. There’s almost a professional tinge to it. A Practice might amount to (literally) practicing – to doing something over and over. Often, however, a Practice is directed: you can establish certain practices to enhance your career or lifestyle. For example, establishing the practice of going on at least three auditions a week would increase your odds of finding acting work as well as accruing additional benefits – you flex your craft, you make friends, you make contacts, you keep yourself in action (rather than despairing at home on the couch) and so forth.

Here are some examples of Practices that creative people find helpful:

* devoting their first waking hours to their craft

* establishing a minimum quota for their creativity for the day (e.g. playing at least ten songs a day; spending at least two uninterrupted hours in the studio every day)

* establishing a weekly quota that benefits their career (e.g. submitting stories to at least five different editors each week; completing at least one canvas per week)

* creativity guru Julia Cameron prescribes a daily walk and longer, weekly hike as part of a creativity-enhancing routine. She also advocates daily journaling and a weekly ‘Artist's Date’.

* meditation practices can be very helpful in focusing the mind prior to a creativity session as well as promoting greater concentration and overall health

* keeping a book handy in which to record ideas and sketches

For multi-talented people, it can be very, very helpful to establish specific Practices: Doing so makes it easier to ‘get started’, to conquer procrastination, to help you focus, to reduce the siren call of distractions and to ensure that you are actually flexing your talents on a regular basis. Consider the benefits of, say, engaging in your primary talent first thing in the morning for some minimum duration. Anything else that happens during the day is creative gravy.

Golfers are taught to approach and address the ball in the exact same way, every time, to maximize consistency. Wherever the ball falls, they walk up to it, size it up and take their stance in exactly the same way. Author Stephen King does the same thing with writing: He starts his day at the same time, in the same chair with his desk arranged in a particular way. According to a recent article, “He claims that starting off with such consistency provides a signal to his mind in preparation for his work.” Is it any wonder he is as prolific as he is?

Some Practices are fundamental to keeping those creative juices flowing. Writers need to write, painters need to paint, musicians need to make music, dancers need to dance. If you know what is the fuel for your particular talents, you can establish practices accordingly. The challenge for DaVincis is to find a way to practice multiple talents, fairly regularly.

When a Practice becomes automatic or second nature, it’s a Habit. Habits are so ingrained, they are almost involuntary.

Consider something like ‘capturing ideas in a notebook as they occur’. To begin with, you’d have to decide to adopt this Practice. You’d need to dedicate a notebook to the purpose and keep it handy. You may need to prompt yourself to capture your ideas – or to review them periodically. If you did this consistently and automatically – if it became second nature with no prompts required, it would be a Habit.

The thing about Habits is that they are automatic and reflexive. You just do them. In some cases habits are helpful (e.g. smiling and shaking someone’s hand when you meet them) or healthy (e.g brushing your teeth after eating) whereas in other cases, habits are unhelpful (e.g. email obsession; persistent negative thoughts and worry) or unhealthy (e.g. regularly over-imbibing in alcohol).

Activity: Get organized. Think about what's on your 'to do' list. What can you sort into particular projects, practices and habits?

Activity: Think about your major talents. What Practices have you established that are working well for you?

Activity: Are any of your top talents being neglected? What Practices could you establish to change that – they might be daily or weekly or monthly.

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(c) Liisa Kyle, Ph.D.

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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The Da Vinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/.

Author's Bio: 

Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. is the go-to coach for smart, creative people who want to overcome challenges, get organized, get things done and get more out of life (www.CoachingForCreativePeople.com).

Liisa Kyle is also an internationally published writer/editor/photographer as well as author of books including "YOU CAN GET IT DONE: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish" (hhttp://bit.ly/YouCanGetItDone). If you are a creative person with too many ideas and too much to do, check out her other helpful articles here: www.DavinciDilemma.com