Hey! I'm yet another guy from the internet who has enough time for pretty much everything.

Apart from my full-time job, I spend time with family, hang out with friends, do some sports 3 times a week, code open-source stuff in my free time, and preparing my side project for a soft launch.

I also do some blogging as well as a lot of learning and research practice related to my work: including reading books and articles, watching vids, writings summary notes afterward, etc.

How do I find time for it? That's simple. I'm a liar.

To be honest, most of the time, I try hard to keep my activity scopes somewhat balanced and not allow any single activity to seize all my time.

However, in the conditions of limited time resources, the balance of scopes inevitably means that the time allocated for every single activity would be too small. Too small to achieve the result that would be any way better than mediocre.

This all looks like a very unattractive choice: either focus on a single thing and put all the resources into it and then suffer from imbalanced life or suffer from a life balanced with below-average achievements.

Anyway, while choosing between focus and balance, I came across a nice trick that I call the activity scopes network effect.

Network Effect

A network effect is originally an economics term meaning a phenomenon when some good's, product's or a service's value for end-users depends positively on the overall number of users.

In other words, the more users it has, the more value it brings to every user.
Network effects can be observed in all social networks, marketplaces, messengers, cell phones, etc.

Unlike Facebook, we are not so scalable. We are limited in our primary resource - time.

That's why when dealing with our multiple activity scopes, what we actually face is a kinda negative network effect. The more activities we add, the faster we degrade until we get completely overwhelmed, just like a database under heavy load.

How to fix it?

The idea is to build interconnected activity scopes that would encourage a positive network effect.

So that every minute spent on any of them would be automatically reinvested in other activities, creating positive feedback loops and eventually result in organic progress in all related scopes.

Network effects examples

For the last few years, I've been applying that idea in my work and skills building, and it would be fair enough to say that I'm pretty much happy with the progress.

Here are some examples of feedback loops that I've built and use around my work.

Not long ago, I've started to take notes as a habit.

This is a rather productive thing by itself. To make it even more valuable, I take notes following a kind of Zettlekasten framework, which allows me to bring together related ideas and compile them into new ones that can gradually develop into blog posts.

I'm not a native English speaker nor living in an English-speaking country. That's why I need to constantly force myself into practice to maintain a good level of language. Otherwise, it just degrades.

That's why I take notes and write blog posts in English, use English locale and even procrastinate on youtube in English.

I've started reading books in English as well. I was slow at first, but gradually I've managed to speed up to an affordable velocity.

That's just a simple thing that doesn't require much additional effort as it is a part of what I already do, but it saves me tons of time that would have been needed for attending extra English classes.

For me, as a freelance software developer English is crucial
in my communication with clients and colleagues. It directly affects my ability to land contracts, understand clients' needs and do my job well.

When looking for contracts, I always try to pick those that would bring me at least a couple of challenges. It would automatically force me to learn new things by doing them and become better as a professional.

Challenges may also bring some food for writing about in the blog or published as open-source projects that may also be written about.

A blog itself may help to acquire traffic for side projects and assist in landing new contracts.

Better contracts -> more money -> more money invested -> more space and time for pet projects -> new skills -> post more -> find even better contracts -> more challenges -> ... etc.

I think you got the idea.

Network effects for unrelated activities

Unfortunately, it's hard to build positive network effects for the majority of non-work-related scopes. Those that are not too tightly coupled with others.

It only seems possible to build a kind of implicit network effects for non-work-related activities through health and general restoration as a proxy that may fuel other activities.