Boost Creativity & Motivation with Personal Projects

Boost creativity & motivation with personal projects

A job can be a stressful experience and it is not always one that we look forward to. This is especially true when we are not doing the jobs that we really want to do. Those of us who are overworked may find it hard to concentrate and react harshly to distractions that make use of already limited time. Those of us  who are underworked may feel that our contributions are insignificant or inadequate. These negative feelings that get associated with work over time can demotivate us and stifle our creativity. Personal projects related to work can help us harness our creativity and encourage self-motivation in addition to creating a break from the more frustrating parts of a job.

Choosing a personal project

The key to choosing an appropriate personal project is that it has to provide some intrinsic value to the organization for which we work. Approval may be necessary before we can start working on a personal project and if we work on the project during company time it is very likely that the results will belong to the company and not to us personally. Nevertheless, if we spend 40 hours or more each week at an organization it is in our best interest to improve our working conditions and efficiency. A personal project may alleviate some of the problems we face at work if we follow these steps and choose it wisely.

1. Identify organization’s shortcomings

WeaknessThink about the things in our business or organization that we would complain about. We may need to put ourselves in the shoes of a customer or outsider to get a more unbiased view. We do not need to identify the solutions to these problems at this stage. Focusing solely on identifying the shortcomings will allow us to brainstorm both those that we think can be solved easily and those that seem beyond our scope. This is necessary because the resources which we will have at our disposal to take on the project are not yet confirmed. Later projects which are not feasible can easily be eliminated.

2. Focus on individual and collective strengths

Strong SafeWe all have unique skill sets and talents. Often times our proficiencies may extend beyond our daily job assignments. These skills may be easy for a boss or supervisor to overlook since they are not directly related to the job at hand. A project allows us to utilize and improve these skills while still contributing in a meaningful way to the development of the organization. It is also not uncommon for someone to get employed in the field where the vacancy exists rather than the field that best suits the individual’s qualifications. Knowing our strengths allows us to contribute in ways beyond what is expected and may open up new opportunities. Co-workers may also be able to identify “hidden” talents in us and we may be able to do the same in them. By identifying these strengths we get a better idea of which projects are feasible.

3. Collaborate with others

TeamworkMany projects cannot be done alone. Others can just be done better or quicker with the help of others. The contribution and feedback of a team can lead to discoveries that a single person may have overlooked. Team members may also have different specialities which when combined make more complex projects feasible. Entire products or services can be born as a result of a collaborative effort. Collaboration can also help build better relationships among co-workers striving for a common goal and enhance communication in the organization. It is not only a problem solving exercise but also a team building opportunity.

4. Work with passion

Work HappyA project is extra work and at times we may need something to justify spending the additional effort and energy. Choosing something we are passionate about can help motivate us and even allow us to have some fun. Remember a project can be a productive distraction from other more mundane tasks. Progress made on personal projects give us a sense of achievement and lessons learned on a project can be applied to regular work. The interest and desire generated from personal projects can have a positive effect on mood and productivity.

Getting the project off the ground

Rocket LaunchResources will be required for any personal project and we may need approval or investment in the project before we can start. It therefore becomes imperative to sell the project to those in control of the resources which we require in order to get the ball rolling. This will require having an in depth understanding of the project requirements and being able to explain how the project will benefit the organization. For smaller projects we may be able to contribute in our down time. For larger projects, however, some level of coordination and project management will be required. At this stage the goals and mission of the project should be established and all stakeholders should be identified. We may also need to provide a plan on how the project will be run without interfering with everyday activities.

Once we have started a personal project we can use it to express ourself creatively and to motivate us to succeed. Since the project is what we chose it should be a challenge we are willing to take on and progress can be used as inspiration. Even small failures can teach important lessons that can be applied to other areas of work. The best part is that when one project is completed another one can be chosen to repeat the cycle and reap further benefits.

5 Tips to keep motivated through slow times

Running MotivatedEveryone has down times and every business has slow periods. It can be very difficult to go through these rough times and maintain your zeal and passion. There are times when I am swamped with work and don’t know where to start. On the other hand, there are times when I wish I had more clients and that I could be more productive. I have compiled a list of things which help me to stay motivated and inspired even when things are slow and my mood is not the best.

1. Focus on your goals

Nothing can motivate you to put your best foot forward today than the promise of a better tomorrow. Keep your goals in mind when things look down and remember that sacrifices today may pay dividends in the future. Align your actions to your goals and the tasks that you perform may seem a bit more bearable since you have an idea of the benefits they can accomplish.

2.  Use Time Management Aids

Time management is often touted during busy times when we are overwhelmed but can also help in slow times as well. The stress of not knowing what to do or what to prioritize can be combated with simple time management tools. I regularly use ToDoist as a task manager to schedule tasks and remind me of what I need to get done. I can schedule recurring tasks and get reminders on my phone. You can also use a simple calendar and task list from Google Calendar or Outlook. These tools can help you to plan in advance for slow periods and get those tasks you are normally to busy to perform accomplished.

3. Diversify your efforts

Monotony is a main cause of boredom because we get tired of doing the same thing over and over again.  This problem is amplified when things are slow and there are not many obvious alternatives. This may be a perfect opportunity to try something different or try doing ordinary tasks in a different way. This may not come naturally so you may have to do some research and some learning before you can master new techniques and skills. Ultimately you may find a more efficient way of doing an everyday task or at least learn different approaches to solving a problem.

4. Find Productive Distractions

We all need to get away sometimes and taking a break can be relaxing as well as a surprisingly inspirational experience. If you have ever had a great idea in the shower, through a dream or while taking a walk you can relate. The key to this tip though is that the distraction must be productive. Reading a book may offer inspiration or relax you as would taking a walk. Gossiping at the water cooler would not really be productive. Talking to someone about a task at hand may over some new insight though.

5. Help someone else

Helping someone else may not directly help your problem at hand but the benefits of your altruism may indirectly affect your mood and open you up to reciprocal assistance. This does not mean that you should help others with the hope of getting something in return though. Just helping someone else allows you to accomplish a task regardless of how minuscule it may seem. The more tasks you accomplish the more confident and fulfilled you become allowing you to tackle your own problems with more enthusiasm. Not to mention, you may just make someone else’s day that much better.

What are your own tips for staying motivated in slow times? Let me know in the comments.