24 May 3 Counter-Intuitive Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work on Your Creative Projects
Creation is hard. Even God took the 7th day off.
Growing up I never saw myself as a creative person. That’s because my one idea of creativity involved drawing and painting, and I’m still a horrible artist.
But humans are meant to be creative. After all, we’ve been making art for tens of thousands of years:
A lot of modern art seems to be surrounded by pretentiousness. How can you be an artist unless you’re a hipster living in Brooklyn, or went to art school?!
Whether you consider an artist or not, working on creative projects everyday requires hustle and a long term vision.
And the best way to work on your creative projects is to do a little bit each day.
Although internet marketers talk about how to create a 6 figure business in a month!! it’s likely going to take longer than that.
But sometimes the last thing I want to do is write, list clothing on eBay, or find books to sell on Amazon. Here are a few counter-intuitive ways I’ve developed over the last couple years to motivate myself to hustle everyday.
I’m intense- I love to get things done. Currently I’m at my brothers college graduation and I drunkenly made myself a to-do list before I went to bed last night.
But, sometimes this intensity and drive costs me my peace of mind- it’s easy to see fall into the trap of seeing people as distractions when your singular focus is getting things done.
I think connection with other humans is the meaning of life, so I don’t want to see people as distractions.
Recently I’ve been finding that cultivating a sense of compassion for myself and other people softens this obsessive drive. This doesn’t mean I lose my vision or energy, it just means I can enjoy myself and not feel guilty when I’m not working on things.
2. Time Blocks
I’m a fan of using downtime in my day to list a few things online, answer some customer questions, or upload a t-shirt design to Amazon Merch (a print on demand service like cafepress).
Listing things online doesn’t require a lot of mental capacity. I work part time at a health food store, and in between customers I try to list a couple things- this way I can usually list at least 10 things while I’m at work.
But, if I tried to write in between customers I would get nothing done. I don’t think it’s possible to make progress on most creative endeavors in 5 minute time blocks.
This is because humans can only focus on one activity at a time- there’s always lost time when you’re switching activities because it takes a while to get into the flow.
This is why most corporate environments aren’t great places to be productive- not only are the drab gray, windowless walls and harsh fluorescent lighting unnatural to human beings. There’s also constant distractions- emails and phone calls along with the constant stream of coworkers almost ensures you’re going to get interuppted and distracted every few minutes.
I’ve found I’m most efficient when I block out a specific amount of time to write or work on projects- usually an hour to 90 minutes. This way I can set an intention of working the whole time and then force myself to sit there.
Sometimes I stare at a blank screen for 15 minutes before I start typing. And a lot of the times I automatically find myself browsing Youtube mindlessly. But by setting the intention I remind myself that I’m here to hustle and work and achieve my goals, not watch videos- this mindset makes it easier to be compassionate and gentle with myself while I exit out and get back to writing.
You already know how important it is to move your body. Especially if you’re dealing with depression, anxiety and/or other mental difficulties.
I find that getting out of breath by doing things like sprints, interval training, hill running, or other vigorous exercise is the most powerful way to boost my mood. I feel like it’s oxygenating my brain.
And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I also feel more motivated and creative when I’m done working out- I just got back from a run, and now I’m typing this!
Sometimes my brain feels like lead and I feel stuck in depressive rumination. When I’m in this unhelpful mindset it’s better for me to workout instead of trying to be productive. Then I usually feel better, and want to work.
Creating anything is hard- especially when it’s a long term project like a blog, publishing on Kindle, or a product idea.
These are 3 counter-intuitive ways I use to motivate myself everyday. Maybe one of them will work for you.