Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Start and Complete Any Creative Project

Let’s say you have an idea for a book, a blog, a work of art, an online course, a new service or anything else that requires creativity. Almost everyone we talk to has something they have been “thinking about” doing for a long time. Some have started. Few have finished.

Here are a few tips that you can use to overwhelm anything (usually internal) that prevents you from starting and completing your creative project.

Begin at the End
This is an old trick I originally learned from Steven Covey in the book,The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeIt basically means to see the final result before you ever get started. Get clear on what you are creating. See the big picture. Use this as a guide to create your masterpiece.

Commit to Doing It
Until you make a decision nothing will happen. Thinking about doing it is not the same thing as doing it. If you decide to go on a cruise, you go on the cruise. Same idea for your project. Decide once and then begin.

Utterly and Absolutely Forget about Perfection
Most people get hung up on creating the perfect thing, whatever that thing might be. It is one of the major stumbling blocks to creative work. As Reid Hoffman the co-founder of LinkedIn said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late.” The main idea is to launch.

Break It Down Into Logical Pieces
In every project, there is a logical sequence to what needs to happen and when. Some things can be done out of sequence but other things depend upon something else being completed before the next step can begin. Brainstorm everything that needs to happen and then arrange each step into a sequence. PostIt notes are invaluable for this.

Go Public
Use social pressure to your advantage. By telling everyone you know what you are up to, you put pressure on yourself to follow through. The more people you tell, the better. Most people will not want to report back that they did not start or finish the project they were so enthusiastic about a few months ago. Forming a mutually supportive Triad (three people who are all working on something important) can be a huge boost to your productivity.

Set Traps for Yourself
A productivity trap is something that distracts you from completing your goal. Conventional wisdom says to clear the decks so you have time to focus on your priorities. This can work but often does not. The alternative is to book your calendar with meetings, exercise, social events, etc. This will force you to schedule in an hour or two every week to work on your project. This time becomes truly focused work time.

Have Faith
Without a little faith, you will be always doubting yourself. That is not helpful when you are doing something you have never done before. If you can muster up the belief that you can do it, that what you need will be available when you need it (even though you have no evidence from the past that says you can), you will be way ahead of the game. Think of how children create. They just get going with a lot of faith that they can do whatever it is they choose to do. They happen to be right. 

That's it!  If you use the strategies, you boost the probability of not only starting but finishing any creative project that you decide (yourself) that you desire to create.  We would love to hear about your successes.