Welcome back, everyone! If you’ve been following our blog for the last few weeks, you’ll know that we’ve been focusing on techniques that help you fight writer’s block and increase your productivity. This week we will address a bad habit many of us have formed: NOT FINISHING PROJECTS!
If you’re anything like me, you probably have several projects that started out great, and somewhere along the way, you hit a snag in the creative process and decided to move on to the next project. This results in a “work in progress” folder of projects piling up, and the longer you allow this folder to grow, the more daunting it becomes to go back and attempt to complete any of these projects! Today we will take a look at a few simple techniques that are so simple and straightforward that they will have you emptying your work-in-progress folder in no time! These techniques include choosing a project and staying with it, establishing a task list, chipping away at the mountain one task at a time, and committing publicly to finish your project. Let’s begin!
Choose a Project and Stay with it. This one may seem like a no-brainer, and in reality, it is! The last thing you want to do when you’re getting ready to work on an unfinished project is to stare blankly at the folder of projects, get overwhelmed and come back to it tomorrow. Instead, choose a project from the folder, put it on your desktop, and commit to finishing this project before even thinking about opening your work-in-progress folder again! This way, you won’t be thinking about how many projects you still have to finish every time you begin this process; instead, you will be able to narrowly focus on finishing a single project.
This technique is great because you are building the habit of finishing something, even if it doesn’t turn out to be absolutely perfect the way you envisioned. When you develop the habit of seeing a project all the way through, you will start to identify problem spots that may be showing up in several unfinished projects, and your brain will become much better at problem-solving in the process.
Establish a Task List. Whenever you approach a song you’ve put off for a while, it is easy to get overwhelmed with everything that still needs to happen before it is finished. My advice? Keep a pen and paper close by and write down each issue as you think of them. This way, you have a manageable list of items to check off as you finish them. Psychologically, every time you complete a task and cross it off the list, you will find yourself feeling much better because you will be looking at tasks you have accomplished rather than becoming overwhelmed with what still needs to be done. You will find if you can keep yourself in a good mentality and stay positive, the process will start to become exponentially easier and more enjoyable.
Chip Away at the Mountain One Task at a Time. This ties in with establishing a list of tasks, but trust me when I say the worst thing you can do is to allow yourself to focus on how much work needs to be done before the project is complete. It is easy to look at a massive work-in-progress and get overwhelmed because you feel like you will never be able to finish it. Instead, set daily goals for yourself, and don’t worry about getting the project done in one sitting. Take a project and dedicate X number of minutes/hours a day to it until it is complete, then start chipping away at the project one task at a time. Again, this will help you to quantify your progress rather than focusing on how far you still have to go.
Commit Publicly to Finishing the Project. We covered this briefly last week, but this is one of the most effective ways to force you to complete a project! Tell your friends/family/co-workers you will have a project complete by a certain date, and they will be holding you accountable. If you have people constantly asking how things are going, you will be motivated to complete the project both by constant encouragement and the urge to live up to what you said you would do.
I hope this helps you create an approach to finishing projects that work for you! Before you know it, you will be emptying your work-in-progress folder and cranking out completed projects. Send us your projects and let us know what your process was like from beginning to end, and make sure to follow us on Twitter @iamjambot and @_signaturesound to let us know what you’re interested in learning in the future. We’ll see ya next week!