Are you consistent with what you do? Do you finish everything you start? No, I didn’t think so, but if you do… Congratulations! You may skip this post.
Otherwise, I have a story to tell you…
Once upon a time I was just like you. I had many ideas, some of them quite good, and I tried to carry them out only to realise I couldn’t finish all of them. Sometimes I would get bored halfway through and leave the project incomplete. When it was something socially-related and I did not achieve an immediate response, I would leave it incomplete and/or get frustrated with it. Sometimes I simply couldn’t be arsed to continue with it.
What made matters worse was the sense of guilt I would sometimes build up after a week, a month or a few years after starting a project and not having been able to finish it. A sense of being incompetent. And the more things I left that way, the worse I felt. A constant buzz in the back of my brain telling me that I didn’t finish it, and I could have.
One example was Zyborg, a computer game (Clone of ZZT) I started developing around 10 years ago with Saxxonpike in Qbasic 4.5. We abandoned the project a few months after we started, however, I always felt a tingling sensation of having left it just standing there. I still have the code.
I also used to start (and not finish) hundreds of songs, paintings, poems, lyrics, books, ideas, scripts, computer programs, drawings and many other things. I even started a company once, and we were really motivated. But after stumbling a few times into problems, we just silently gave up on it. But the tingling sensation must have lasted ages in all of us. The sense of not having been able to accomplish our goal. The feeling of failing.
When and how did things change for me?
When I started adding a little bit of organisation into my life.
I started off by writing task lists and project ideas down on paper. If I couldn’t get through them in one go I learned not to stress about it and leave it for a later date, whenever I felt more confident or motivated about the project. Then all these ideas and tasks stopped being burdens on my mind and were converted to sentences in a notebook (later replaced by Google Docs).
Then I started printing out calendars in Microsoft Publisher, and using them to keep track of future events. I have never liked daily based diaries as I hate the format, I hate carrying too many notebooks, and I hate wasting too many blank pages. But a monthly calendar format suited me, with 30-31 rectangles on a sheet with just the right amount of space to keep track of my main tasks per day.
Further on, seeing the success this brought me in organising my life, I looked for a computer solution for my needs. I needed to be able to view it from any PC where I were at, so Microsoft Outlook was out of the question. I found comfort in Google Calendar which I have been using for over 2 years now. It was great, I could view it in any style I liked! I started out using the monthly style, however, lately I have preferred using the weekly view as I plan and use it on a daily basis.
Google Calendar, however, wasn’t the solution to my problem in storing my project ideas. One day one of my best friends introduced me to Remember the Milk. A pot of gold! Accessible from my iPod touch, updateable from anywhere, it was pure glory!
Since then, I have never had a problem remembering what I have done, what I have to do, and what are my plans and ideas for the future.
So if you have ever had one of these problems I have had, give it a try! I mean, it’s free so you have nothing to lose. And if it’s just not your cup of tea, stick around and give the net a look, there must be something ideal for you! The important thing is not giving up on projects or ideas just because you have no time for them at the moment. And if you started one, but haven’t finished it, just keep track of it and leave it for a later date. Don’t scrap it… Remember it.