Embarking on a new creative project is both exciting and daunting. Normally, the excitement for a project comes at the very beginning, and at the very end. The daunting bit comes in the middle. At the beginning we develop a vision, brainstorm ideas, set a timeline, and buzz with all the possibilities. At the end we receive a sense of fulfilment, relief, and closure. But how do we deal with the ‘filling in the sandwich’; the hard slog in the middle part of the project?
Here are three things that really help me to stay happy when I’m working on a long-term creative project.
1. Set mini-goals
I maintain a ‘things-to-do’ list every day, and I make sure that I don’t make the list too long or too short. Normally 5-10 items is about right. I make sure I factor in work on my projects, but also exercise and relaxing activities as well as necessary chores. If you’ve got an iPhone, the Notes app is great for doing this, and thanks to iCloud your notes will sync with your other Apple devices, for editing anywhere. No doubt there are Android equivalents; you’re welcome to leave a comment with your favourite.
I try to end each day with an empty inbox and no pending notifications on my phone. That gives me a real sense of satisfaction and helps me to sleep more peacefully. Sounds impossible? Then you’re probably subscribed to too many mailing lists or have downloaded too many apps. Have a clear-out! Rather than being on every social site, pick two or three that are most relevant to your project and master them. In your email client (Gmail for me), consider creating filters so your emails automatically go into folders. As a blogger I find this especially helpful, as all the new posts from blogs I follow go into one folder. I can then dedicate time to catching up with all my favourite blogs in one go, while dealing with all my personal emails separately.
3. Schedule quiet time
Try to take half an hour each day when you’re doing absolutely nothing but sitting quietly and thinking (perhaps with a cup of tea in hand). Turn your phone off, close your laptop, and enjoy the peace of having no distractions. It’s wonderfully refreshing just to savour the peace and count your blessings. It helps keep everything in perspective.
PerfectChaos.org is primarily a theology and music blog, so you won’t find me writing motivational posts like this very often. But I hope these tips are helpful. How do you keep motivated in the middle of a project? Leave a comment below!