The hardest part of starting a personal project is motivating yourself to do work on it every day. The key to a successful project is to make the work part of your daily ritual so laziness can’t creep in and throw you off your game. Today, I’m going to share some of my recommendations that I personally use to get things done.
Find a time of day that works best for you
This is probably the most important aspect of starting a new project. The time of day you choose to work should be easy for you to incorporate into your normal daily schedule. I work a full-time job during the day, and mornings were never my strong suit. So, I like to use the time to unwind before bed with some chill beats.
My work is pretty soothing, so it helps me relax. This replaces my old habits of watching YouTube videos or reading late into the night. I will usually start around 10PM to finish by 11PM – by then I will be feeling pretty tired, and I can go straight to bed to get my 8 hours of rest.
Other times work best for different people – I know of one person who develops games in their free time, and they find getting a couple hours in before sunrise works best for them. As long as you consistently work the same time every day, it will become part of your daily schedule to give some time to your project.
Always commit a specific amount of time
I always commit to working 1 hour each day, for my roommate this is 2-3 hours per day. As long as I do a whole hour of tasks related to my overall goals, then I consider it a success. This means no breaks for food, watching videos on the side, or talking with others if it doesn’t relate to the tasks at hand!
The best part of this rule is you can be flexible with your time. If you’re having a bad day, you can stop after an hour; but if you’re enjoying what you’re doing go longer! You just have to hit the minimum time requirement you set for yourself. Once you form a habit to work every day, you can even be flexible when you put your time in. For example, on Friday evenings I usually want to relax or hang out with friends in the city. I just shift that lost hour to Saturday morning. Instead of doing 1 hour on Saturday, I do 2 (but I still do 7 total hours on the week).
Have an agenda
I set “1 hour goals”, or things I need to get done in the hour. As the session goes on, record progress in a results section either in a document or in a notebook. This can include what you’ve completed and your action items for the next time.
Before finishing off for the day, add your action items to the “1 hour goals” list for the next day. This gives your work a sense of continuity and makes sure you don’t miss anything moving forward.