This is my question to the community.
You have a growing list of hobbies you'd like to take up. Skills to acquire. Places you'd like to travel to. An ever expanding list of books on your to-read list. Your Netflix queue is excessive.
How do you decide what to do and when? How do you prioritize?
Funny, I've been asking high productive, independent people this question lately, "how do you choose between the vast number of options, projects, hobbies, places to live, and so on?"
In terms of big choices like where am i going to live or what work am I going to do be doing the next X years, I think the most important key is to do something you genuinely enjoy doing. Not because you'll make money "one day", will look good to your friends, or whatever. Hobbies are different. You can toy around with poker, gardening, or whatever on the side if you want.
The second most important thing is just do shit. I'm a pretty indecisive person with a lot of interests and freedom to pursue them. So, I just do whatever seems the most accessible and important in the moment whether or not I'm 100% sure it's what I want to do or should be doing.
For example, I was living in Boston and having a great time. Getting high productive work done. A lot of my best friends nearby. But I left to go travel cross country in a RV because...I had a RV and I always wanted to do that. Now, I'm pretty sure I don't need to do this ever again. But if I had stayed at home, I would be constantly wondering if I should do it or not. (note i am in no way endorsing the idea of traveling cross country in a RV).
So, either do what you want to do. Or just do whatever's on your list. Either way, you will only figure it out by doing stuff. At the very least you can cross things off your list that you're sure you don't want to do. No book, person, or blog post can replace experience. It's kind of the same principle in pickup, just approach. Whatever happens afterwards, you'll quickly learn what matters and doesn't.
What's most important to you right now?
Is there something that you feel like you should do, but actually doesn't matter in your long-term life plan?
What is it that you REALLY want to do right now?
You have to think about what is important and valuable to you. It's important to do the stuff that is important to you, not the stuff that you think that you SHOULD do, just because some authorative people say you should. Think for yourself and decide what you want to spend your time on, make your own decision about it.
Use these kind of questions to drill it down to a few things that you have time to dedicate time to. You can always change priorities later if you want to. But right now, focus on those things you drill it down to.
Also, because you discard some hobbies or interests now doesn't mean that you discard them forever. View it as phases of your life where you focus on different things.
Personally I want to focus on a bunch of things: working on my business (web design agency), improving as a designer, creating music and learning more instruments, photography, improving my social life, climbing, writing.
And even though music is a really great passion for me right now, I have cut out trying to actively improve and create stuff just because I want to do these other things instead right now. Instead I'm going to focus hard on music later on when I feel that I don't need to spend as much time on the other things.
I've also dramatically cut down on information input in order to get more time for the things I really want to focus on.
Hope this is helpful and just not a ramble.
I'm in High School right now, so I am trying to make the most of my free education. I take all the high level classes (AP or simply above my grade level) so that I can learn as much as I can. However, I don't really care about grades or homework. My purpose is to learn. With that in mind, my home life is rarely filled with homework (well, it is, but I don't do it most of the time), rather I spend my time reading, listening to various lectures put forth by colleges (why pay for college when you can find most of it on youtube and google?), or spending time with friends.
I think Eric put forth a good point, one can discard certain aspects (hobbies and such forth) for a time being, so that one can focus on other intrigues to a fuller point. A phase perspective on life. Also his point on doing what is important to you, not someone else.
Prioritizing my time has never been a huge issue for me (in the past it has, but things have changed). As long as I am bettering myself physically, mentally, and emotionally everyday, I am content.
My biggest criticism with personal development, self improvement, or whatever you want to call it, is that a lot of it is theoretical or has little effect on your life NOW. Of course, most people become interested in personal development because of problems they're facing immediately, which creates a perfect setup for disappointment.
Thinking back on the different areas in which I've directed my efforts, here is a short list of some of the most effective ones which got results quickly (in no particular order):
1. Buy and read the book Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever. It's a fascinating read and will give you a deep and valuable understanding of your body, nutrition, and food. When I read it I did so because I was bored, even though I had no particular interest in health or diet. Reading it instantly changed the way I see a lot of things.
Never has learning from others been so accessible. If you don't take advantage of it, you are missing out. The following list takes approx 5:30 hours and costs less than $30. It could even be less than $20 buying used books or free if you have a good library nearby.
3 (short) Books: 5 hours - $27 on Amazon Kindle
2 Essays: 15 minutes - Free
1 Podcast: 20 minutes - Free
Listed here in my subjective order of importance: