Kitty Gang Guide To Starting & Finishing A Project
I was listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast series Tribe of Mentors in an interview with one of my favourite podcasters and designer, Debbie Millman of Design Matters. On this episode, Millman talks about the laziest and most inauthentic excuse people come up with for why they haven’t started a project, "I am too busy.”
We’ve heard it before—and if we’re being honest, we'll admit that we’ve said these words ourselves. We use it as an excuse for why we haven’t started that blog, gone travelling, or finished renovating the basement.
If you want to start and finish a project, give up on your lame excuses and make time to do it. Millman says, “we do the things we want to do... period. If we say we’re too busy, it means it’s not important enough.” And I believe this to be true.
We make time for the things that matter to us. If you're struggling to make time, start by eliminating time-sucking habits like spending less time on social media, wake up earlier, or cut down on Netflix.
Becoming a more productive version of yourself will always be a work in progress, but I assure you getting your shit together to complete a project is attainable. When it comes to starting and finishing projects—no matter how big or small—here are some of my favourite pieces of advice to keep me on track and motivated.
1. Tell Someone About It
Get excited about your project!
If you’re like me, I can’t help but tell everyone about what I’m working on. It’s a good thing because it holds me accountable for actually following through with my words.
Tell someone you trust, and who knows you well to lay out the truth for you even when you don't like hearing it. This person will no-doubt let you know when you've veered off your path.
2. Write A List
Creating a list is especially helpful for tackling large projects, and it’s apparently a great mental exercise.
Breaking your project into smaller items will feel less intimidating. You'll surprise yourself at how much you get done at the end of the week when you add the little tasks up.
Plus, who doesn’t like crossing things off of their to-do list? It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.
3. Make Promises To Yourself
The promises you make to yourself are as important as the promises you make to other people. This is my favourite personal mantra. It's not so much an actionable piece of advice, but rather a shift in your perspective.
You wouldn't stand your friend up on a coffee date or tell them you’d do a favour and not follow through—unless you’re a shitty friend, but that’s another issue.
If you have the intention of doing something, don’t let yourself down. Follow through with the promises you make to yourself.
4. Work When You’re Most Productive
Be observant of your workflow. It’s important to know how your mind and creativity work so you can create the best environment to boost your productivity.
This process may take a bit of trial and error, but once you've figured this out, you're on your way to becoming a more productive you.
Not everybody's a morning person, and that’s okay. Learn to leverage your most efficient portions of the day (it even rhymes!)
5. Create A Productive Work Space
What does your current workspace look like?
Are you excited to sit down and get to work or do you feel cluttered and stressed out?
I prefer my workspace to be well lit and my desk clear of anything unrelated to the task at hand. I'll also light a candle or incense stick before I sit down for work.
Whether your workspace is at a rented coworking office, your dining room table, or a nook in your room. Make it an area you’re excited to work in. I have a desk in the living room and one in my bedroom. I’ll alternate between the two (depending on how much clutter I’ve left the desks the night before).
6. Talk To Like-Minded People
Other makers and artists have been an incredible resource of information and inspiration for Kitty Gang. Use social media to your advantage and connect with like-minded people.
Talk to people who are in the midst of their own creative endeavours, or who have been successful in something that you want to learn.
It’s important to network during your project. You never know how you might be able to help someone with their project and vice-versa. A network of like-minded people will help you stay inspired and focused on your work.
7. Trust The Process—Even If It’s Looking Like Shit
Instead of tossing out your half-finished painting, blog post, or knitted sweater ask yourself, “can it have a life of its own?”
Think Bob Ross and happy accidents. Resist the urge to scrap your project if it’s not going the way you’ve imagined.
As a perfectionist, I know that feeling of wanting to throw out all your supplies because the project is starting to look a little funky. I urge you to see it through and trust the creative process.
This "all-or-nothing mentality" will stifle your creativity and prevent you from ever completing anything. No time is ever wasted if you’re spending it experimenting or perfecting your craft.
You might surprise yourself if you trust in your skills and resourcefulness. Even if it sucks, at least you’ll have a clearer vision of what you’re looking for—and what to avoid— in your next attempt.
Well, there you have it—another article on “How To Get Shit Done.” I realise the irony of you reading this post if you're currently procrastinating.
I hope you didn't spend too much time reading it, but I do hope that you take away some insights to help you get started and stay focused on setting up your art studio, starting that Youtube channel, finally refurbishing that dresser—or whatever new project comes your way.