A version of this post originally appeared in an issue of Nerd Nest News. Sign up for creative jumpstarts, exclusive first looks at projects, and special coupons.
If you are anything like me, there are a lot of creative projects on your want-to-do list. When you have a lot that you want to do, it is easy to become paralyzed…and then you won’t end up doing anything. Or you’ll spend most of your creative time trying to decide what to do rather than getting it done! We don’t want that. Here are a few questions I ask myself when I’m planning my next move:
What’s due next?
If I have a deadline for a creative project, say a launch date for a class or a holiday for finishing a handmade gift, I try to always keep that in mind when choosing my next move. Even if the due date is far out, if the project is pretty big, I know I’ll need to work on a project for little bits of time way in advance. If you have trouble procrastinating until a due date, try setting yourself mini “progress” due dates on your calendar to help you to prioritize hitting up creative work milestones.
This is something I am good with for work projects, but am not great with on personal projects. I’m going to try this goal-breaking-up right along with you! My goal is to not still be making DIY photo calendars Christmas Eve this year.
Who is counting on me?
If I want to do something just for fun, it doesn’t really matter how much time passes between idea and conception (my bookshelves were years in the making). But when someone is counting on the project, say because I’ve set up a class schedule for students, an Internet friend has scheduled me in for a guest post on their blog, a family member needs me to edit photos Jake and I took of them, or Eliza’s class needs a craft project for a fund raiser, I need to make sure I’m flagging that project as a top priority.
If you are a list maker, try making a list of your possible projects and noting the projects you need to prioritize for others with a symbol or a specific highlighter color.
What can I fit in?
Sometimes I only have a little bit of time to work on creative projects and that means that I can’t necessarily work on my top priority things, either because they take a lot of focus, getting supplies set up takes too much time, or I can’t break up the task in small pieces. Then it’s less about what I need to get done next and more about what makes sense for the amount of time that I have.
Waiting for my kid to find his shoes on so we can leave the house? That’s enough time to pick and edit a few photos. Watching a movie with my family? I can knit a few lines of a blanket. Waiting in line at the grocery store? I can brainstorm for a blog post.
Thinking about your spare moments in this way can help you make progress on those big projects or can help you knock out the small ones that aren’t on the top of your priority list.
What am I excited about?
Don’t put a project that you area excited about off–ride that steam full speed ahead! If you CAN put off otherwise prioritized projects to work on the thing that just grabs you, it could do wonders for your motivation and productivity.
When I’m excited about something, I’m bursting with ideas, and that helps me to get things done faster. That’s what happened with the scrapbooking page here–I had the idea for making an embellishment window with the arrows and was excited to find a story to tell that went with them. I went with a story about playing giant chess on my library’s rooftop. Bonus–it gave me the idea for the subject of this post.
*If you’d like to learn how to make the embellishment window on this scrapbook page, check out my tutorial at Freckled Fawn.
What are the results I want?
Sometimes I really don’t feel like making something, but I really want the end result. An example recently was a simple project to make wood boards with hooks on them in my hallway. My entryway is a mess, and this will cut down that mess. The end result looks really nice. But it took me forever to get motivated: I have all of my supplies, I painted the wall the hooks will go on, my grandpa beveled and sanded the wood (I don’t have the tools), and my husband measured the holes for the hooks (I do not have the gift of precision).
The whole staining and sealing the wood part took us weeks to tackle, and I delegated the mounting the hooks part entirely. Because I really wanted the hooks and more space in the entryway, I made time to move forward on the project. Even though it’s just for me and I’m wasn’t particularly excited about doing it, envisioning the end result helped me to get through the middle.
How do you plan your next move?
I’d love to hear what you are planning on making! Start up a conversation with me here or Instagram. Use the hashtag #nerdnestjumpstart to share your ideas!
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