The Downsides of a Multidisciplinary Life

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Stephen Covey

There are many benefits to pursuing a multidisciplinary life, as an endless supply of curiosity and ideas, but there are also plenty of downsides. If you’re not careful, you can —

  • be less focused
  • get less done
  • be less potent (less deep / more shallow)
  • be more scattered
  • become distracted by new ideas or things you want to learn

And you’ll likely be late for everything. 😉

There’s also the chance that people don’t believe that you are doing all multiple things. Some will think you are cutting corners, but really you are just adding more time to your day by cutting away the nonessential things most people spend all their time on.

As you can see, the majority of the downsides are all related to spreading yourself too thin and spending your time like it’s an infinite resource. 

Because our most valuable resources—time, energy, attention—are all spent on one thing, dividing up our time between various skills naturally cuts our time shorter than if we were focused on only one thing.

While you’re trying to learn 10 things at once, Jane Doe over there is giving 100% of her time and effort on learning design. (Not that comparing yourself to Jane is the smartest thing to do.)

But wait. Is this really true? Aren’t we all overbooked—despite whether we enjoy doing many things or just one thing? Aren’t we all busybodies nowadays, running around with too much on our todo lists and spending our free time vegging out in front of the TV and or our phones?

We (humans) all have to choose what we do with our time, whether or not we are pursuing a multi-disciplinary life or a one discipline life.

The first thing you must decide is what type of life do you want to lead. Are you going to go all-in on dancing? Or are you going to divide your time between dancing and microbiology? Or are you going to find a way to thread the needle between dancing, microbiology, music, painting, and pottery?

Once you have a good idea of what type of life you want, then you must prioritize what’s most important. 

If you decide to pursue multiple disciplines, know your limits. Don’t try to do everything. Rather focus on a handful of things. The less amount, the more time and focus you’ll have for each.

The last thing we want to do is spin a lot of plates but not accomplish anything we set out to do. Without consistency and discipline, we could easily jump from one shiny object to the next and never actually finish a project, or fully learn a craft. 

The key is to not try to do everything at once. Even if you are pursuing multiple things, whichever one you are focusing on right now, give it 100% of your attention and effort. As the inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #906

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