5 Tips to running productive projects.

How to avoid getting that dreaded burnout on your personal projects

Apr 18 · 4 min read

Whether you are gunning to create the worlds best fan-funding platform, or simply trying to learn a new skill, its important to make sure that you stay productive and avoid project burnout at all costs. Productivity in general can have far reaching effects and is even used as a performance metric for large populations as a measure of economic performance.

In personal terms, running an unproductive project can lead to frustration, stress and depending on the project, money. We’re not strangers to burnout either, so we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 tips for keeping your projects productive and you happy.

1. Slow and steady wins the race

When starting a new project, its important to make sure that you get a good measure of how long it will take to complete, as well as the complexity and learning curve required to achieve your end result. A bug mistake that many people is by giving too much and too quickly, leading to project burnout.

Burnout occurs when you have so much enthusiasm for a project that it takes over other tasks that you want to achieve, leaving you to become frustrated and annoyed. On large projects this can particularly hurt as it may not be immediately when you jump right in how much work is involved overall.

A late result is better than one that never comes, if you feel like you are getting too involved, take a step back, come away for a week or so and come back to it when you have a clearer mind.

2. Make it a habit

Habits can be both good and bad, the key to running a productive project is to make it part of your routine. Maybe you can’t get around to finishing that game you were making because you never seem to have the time. We find its best to set a regular time and pattern that's workable for you to work on your project.

By forming your project work as part of a schedule, you are more likely to form a habit. Much like how people eat at certain times, wake at certain times and bathe at certain times. It is said that humans are creatures of habit after all.

3. Avoid feature creep

This tip is more valid for those who are working on product-based projects, such as a book, comic, game or even website but still applies to all projects in general. With all the enthusiasm you have for your new project its important to not try and fit everything into it at once.

Feature creep is a term given to projects that requirements grow and expand as the project continues to be developed.

What you think might be a good idea now, could be costing you days, weeks or even months of lost productivity because it was not properly planned out and scheduled for in advance. Whilst a little bit of feature creep can be good, especially if its based on customer feedback, in general it will extend your project way beyond its original deadline and leave you feeling like the only option is to delay, or even worse, abandon the project.

4. Don’t be a perfectionist

This one is quite contentious we’d argue, but we think its massively unproductive to always strive for total perfection on your project, especially if you are doing it solo.

In an ideal world, every project that is finished would look exactly like we imagined in our heads, but alas, we’re only human. There are many times where its both a good idea and worthwhile to strive for the absolute best that is possible, but there is a huge trade-off in terms of project productivity.

Perfection often means, re-writes, edits and changes galore and all of these take time. In addition, its quite common for projects to get stuck in that phase where they are forever being changed and chopped instead of being put out there and finished.

Perfection comes with experience, and the most projects you finish, the better you will get, we can’t tell you the amount of websites we’ve built prior to making Fanjolt, and even then we know there is so much work we’d love to do but just don’t have the time.

To see this as a positive, why not store all of the ideas and features you didn’t get to finish in this project and add them to the next one? That way you’re not being unproductive and it will incentivise you to carry on working.

5. Some things aren’t just meant to be, and that’s OK.

This may seem like the complete opposite to advice in staying productive, but we’ve abandoned so many projects that weren’t meant to be and have been the better for it.

What you envision and plan may sometimes not be what you actually get when you start working on the project, and this can sometimes lead to fear that a projects end result may be nothing like you wanted.

In these instances we say this; just drop it. Life Is too short to toil away on the things that don’t make you happy, and having a positive attitude and mood is essential for staying productive on future projects.

- The Fanjolt Team

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