Dan Mall

I teach designers how to get the respect they deserve.

August 2023

I can’t seem to just do one thing.

I want to. Badly.

Back in March, I posted about my excitement over finally being able to have a month to focus on one thing. That thing turned out to be teasing, announcing, and eventually launching Design System University.

Last month, I wrote about doing less. Apparently, I write about doing less a lot. Like seriously, a lot. I guess I just can’t seem to take my own advice. Even though DSU was the majority of what I did in March—my timesheet says I spent 63% of my working hours on it—I also did 5 other things too. I worked on my Dribbble course, wrote more of my upcoming design system book, and took on 3 consulting gigs.

Some of that is because I need the cash to pay my bills. Some of that is because I like working on lots of things. I think most of it is because doing one thing is scary. All the eggs are in that basket. In a world that teaches us that diversifying our asset portfolios is the safest bet, working on one thing seems just plain foolish.

Many creators adopt a holding company/portfolio approach to their income. A portion comes from a course, another portion from other products, some from sponsorships, some from consulting. A lot of that is a necessity at first, because none of these things is initially large enough to provide a decent living on its own, but the aggregate can.

This past weekend, I took stock in my own recent income portfolio. I’m tracking. SIXTEEN. DIFFERENT. THINGS. that contribute to my income.

That is too much. And it’s still not enough. It’s exhausting. I am literally tired of it.

This past weekend, Em and I mapped out a way for me to try again to do just one thing. I’m terrified of it. I’m excited about it.

And I’m practicing being disciplined about it. Right on cue, the day after I committed to a renewed singular focus, three great, new opportunities surfaced. I’m generally pretty good about my boundaries, and I still honestly don’t know how to say no to these new adventures. It’s not because I feel pressured to do something I don’t want to do. It’s that I want to do all the things!

Still though, I think there’s enough allure in this new mission to keep me focused on it for a good majority of my August and hopefully a bit after too. It’s something I’ve had an idea for for a while, but I think I’ve been too scared to do it. Just realizing that makes me want to do it a little more now.

So, if all goes well and according to plan, watch this space for something new dropping in September. I think it’ll be worth your while, and I hope it’ll be worth mine too.

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