In episode 220—Consume or Create?—I talked about the agility of production as a critical component of creating new work and I wanted to go a little deeper into the topic: How can I overcome the things that hold me back so that I can get into a cycle of creation? In this episode of Getting Work To Work, I’m going to talk about the following themes that prevent me from being an agile producer: ideas and inspiration, comparison, inertia, friction, perfectionism, finances, and lack of growth.

What does it mean to be an agile producer?

  • You can bring your ideas to life.
  • You meet your deadlines.
  • You make consistent progress over a period of time.
  • You aren’t trying to do everything all at once.
  • You are growing in your skills and abilities.

The seven themes that prevent me from being an agile producer:

  1. Ideas and Inspiration.
  2. Comparison.
  3. Inertia.
  4. Friction.
  5. Perfectionism.
  6. Finances.
  7. Lack of Growth.

How will you work through these seven areas? Which are the most pervasive in your work today?

Do you struggle with ideas and inspiration?

  • Check out Atlas Obscura (either the book or the site) and read about the hidden wonders of the world. See what makes you curious.
  • Do something mundane or even mindless.
  • Step away from the computer and the phone.
  • Exercise.
  • Take two different ideas and mash them up.
  • Go to an antique store and buy 5 random photos and tell a story with them.

Are you compulsively comparing yourself and your work to others?

  • Try to decompartmentalize the inspiration you seek with the comparison that can turn into.
  • Compare your past work with your current work and focus on what you have learned.
  • Create a trusted board of advisors that will give you the true feedback you need.
  • If you really struggle with comparison, create a Comparison Tip Jar. It’s a lot like a Swearing Tip Jar. Every time you compare yourself or work to another person, put in a dollar.

Are you lazy, unsure, or burnt out?

  • First, identify which you are. If you are lazy, move away from what you mindlessly do, and at least make an attempt to start (open the program).
  • If you are unsure, start anywhere that doesn’t require a lot of motivation or momentum. Small victories are key.
  • If you are burnt out, admit it. Take care of yourself. Recognize that you might not be productive like you want until you heal.

Is there something causing friction and slowing the process down?

  • Identify the sources of friction that are being generated by you and by others. The friction generated by yourself could be lack of decision-making, a poorly defined process, unable to delegate to others, doing too much in a given amount of time. The friction by others is usually in the form of communication and feedback.
  • Do something unexpected or even opposite of the source of friction? Not able to make a decision? Make one and move one. Waiting to have a client or source respond to an email? Pick up the phone and call.
  • Friction is generally caused by a habit.
  • Another form of friction is wanting to do everything in one sitting.

Do you demand perfection of your work, yourself, and others?

  • Perfection is a trap and a lie.
  • Do your best. Be your best. But know that not everything will be perfect.

Are you struggling to make ends meet?

  • Know you aren’t alone. Talk to friends.
  • Identify your weaknesses when it comes to finances. Do you struggle with saving? Perhaps making enough to pay your bills? Maybe you are addicted to buying the latest gear, causing cash flow problems?
  • How will you work through these weaknesses?
  • Build multiple revenue sources. Jon Acuff recommends seven.
  • If you are freelancer, have a variety of services from small to large projects that enable you the chance to do short bursts of work without long-term commitment.

Have you stopped growing?

  • When you do the same thing that you’ve always done, your ability to solve new problems slows down and you get bored.
  • Identify and set goals for what you want to learn.
  • On every project, learn something new. Do a post-mortem and make notes on what you learned and what you didn’t.

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