Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Eating the $1000 Chocolate Bar

For a lot of my life, I've tried to cover a dozen priorities at a time. Recently, I've finally accepted that I can't mind that many priorities, I can only pretend to.

I think I'm capable of minding more than one priority at a time, but not many. Being a husband and father, those are the tops. Being the best son, friend, brother, and neighbor I can with the time that's left. One or two priorities at a time, at work, when I'm there. I can't handle more, and sometimes that's too much.

So what's a millennial, yuppie, papa to do? All the tribes I'm in signal to me that I should be doing more. Prioritizing more. Making more impact. Focusing on more not less.

But in the past few months I've been trying something different - doing less, but being intentional about what that less is. Starting with the assumption that I won't have a lot of priorities. That I'll start with one, and add as few as possible.

The hard part wasn't prioritizing less - focusing more attention on fewer things feels glorious and has obviously worked out better for everyone concerned. The hard part was giving myself permission to carve out the time and space to figure out what was most important and what really wasn't.

I was conducting some interviews for a summer associate position at work this Friday and had a wonderful conversation with a candidate. She starts her week with "big picture time", taking 2-3 hours at the beginning of the week to figure out what to focus on. It's a practice that I've been experimenting with, too.

She said it can sometimes feels like indulging in a $1000 chocolate bar. After all, who can afford to take 2 whole hours to "think" when there are deadlines to make and to-do list items to complete?

Even though it does take some courage to say "no" or "not now" to things that are seemingly high priority, I don't think I'll go back to prioritizing more. Now that I've tried it, it's too hard to function without indulging in that $1000 chocolate bar.