Points of completion

Because some projects can go to infinity and beyond, and that's no good.

“Creativity is a consequence of sheer productivity. If a creator wants to increase the production of hits, he or she must do so by risking a parallel increase in the production of misses. ...the most successful creators tend to be those with the most failures.”

How do you feel about newsletters (blog posts, stories, articles, etc.) starting with a great quotation?❋

I, personally, love it.

Anyway, here are some thoughts about how to keep creative projects from expanding to infinity, taking over your life, sucking out your soul, aggressively demanding all of your brain space, and otherwise putting you in that place where “real life” seems pointless and surreal and hilarious, and the only things that are real are the minutest details of phase 27, timeline B, tactic 18, paragraph 7 of your project strategy.


Define points of completion

What will you produce with your next action?

A new option or a definition? A song, a concept, a new product, or a visual representation of a concept? A feature, a blog post, or a drawing?

If you don't know what you’re producing, you don't know what you're working on.

Even relaxation has a production value. Taking a nap, a walk, or other significant break can produce a rested, recharged version of you.

Pseudo-breaks don’t have the same effect. They don’t produce a relaxed, refreshed you. Social media might feel satisfying, but it tires your brain. Procrastinating drains your energy. Define the production value of "taking a break" to see the difference between a real break and a pseudo-break.

When you are doing something, think about what you’re trying to produce.

Define your goal to define your tasks.

Then you know which tasks can be ignored. You can decide quickly what is relevant to a task, and what is unnecessary.

The point isn’t to be a productive robot. The point is to finish some of the things we start. Otherwise, we lose motivation and energy. We’ve all had days when we leave a trail of undone tasks behind us. Those are discouraging days.

We’ll always have things in progress, and many that never reach completion. That's part of the creative process: trying things out, rejecting some, sticking with others.

Define your project’s endpoints.

For the projects you stick with, set a project-level endpoint and smaller internal endpoints so you can reach completion.

Internal points of completion show you where to focus your energy from day to day. Get the high of finishing something even when the work is ongoing. Measure your progress as you make it. Know when it's time to stop working on one task and move to the next.

A project-level point of completion tells you when to stop working on this project, ship it, and move on to your next endeavor.

Nothing's ever really finished, but things can be completed. Completion releases you to turn your energy to new things. Defining points of completion frees you from endless perfectionistic loops.

To sum up:

  • The human mind wants completion and feels frustrated without it.

  • Set clearly defined points of completion to avoid that frustration.

  • Define a project-level point of completion, then set various internal points as well.

  • Define the points by stating your production goal for each one.

  • Use your energy and time on the tasks that move you to your production goal.


❋A nit-picky addendum about word usage; specifically, quote v. quotation:

Does the highlighting on the image help? I think so.