Friday, November 12, 2010

Building Momentum

Momentum in a project is always great. It helps pull you along, the fun and easy parts become even more fun and easy, and the hard parts seem no-so bad and they end up being a lot less painful than you initially thought. Riding the momentum feels great, but the problem always lies with finding that momentum in the first place.

In our experiences, momentum seems to come if we're lucky - most of the time you end up trudging along, and then sometimes things get better, sometimes they don't. However, we've found that the secret to constantly gaining momentum is by taking lots of little steps.

Even if what you're doing is sort of painful, like doing an illustration of something you hate for a client that's underpaying you, or having to design your great-aunt's business cards - for free, by taking lots of little steps, you'll eventually find that doing more and more little steps is easier and easier, and before you know it, you'll be done.

Breaking down steps into even smaller steps always helps, as the more tiny little tasks you finish, the more accomplished you feel, and the more momentum you'll build. The key is tiny, tiny tasks. The more painful the project, the smaller the tasks should be. If you're really struggling, you can make the tasks as simple as "get out sketchbook." Next task: "find pencil." Next task: "draw a monster for warm up." Take a break, make getting a beverage of your choice the next task. In this way, you can tell your brain "Hey look, I've already got four things done already! This is easy!"

Don't focus on what you have left to do, but what you've already done. When silk screening large orders of shirts, it's never fun to look at the huge pile of boxes and think, "Wow, I've still got 750 shirts to print." It's way more motivating to say "Wow, I've already printed 250 shirts, and it's still early!"

That said, if you're working on a project you like, still keep the steps in manageable portions. That way it won't go from "fun" to "overwhelming," which is how a lot of our projects can get if we don't make sure we're on top it.

So whether you're working on something you hate or you love, make sure to build momentum by taking small steps and you'll find that you'll finish quicker, have more fun, and you'll be (many) steps closer to taking over the world!

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