How to finish your projects

A message from a procrastinator to procrastinators

Create a concrete idea

You have an amazing idea, product or piece of technology. You got an image of the product in your head. Now it is time to write it down & draw it on a piece of paper. Doing this makes your goal more touchable & real. It makes it feel like it is something you can achieve even though there is a long road in front of you.

Now you have a blueprint of what you want to work towards. The next step is creating the first small steps towards your goal. Create small but helpful steps to create the first viable version of your big goal. It doesn’t need to be perfect just a version to get a better feeling of what you’re working towards.

When you finally got your first small version of your end goal. You should tell your friends, acquaintances & family about the plan and let them see your work. This will motivate you even more, and they might have some tips about your final goal. They might even want to get on board and help the development of your goal.

You don’t need to have the perfect version the first time. Go for just 10% of the whole idea. Small steps give you a good feeling of what you’re working towards.

Deadlines

As time proceeds motivation slowly fades. It is really humane to slowly lose motivation over time. To prevent giving up or stopping your project in general you should have deadlines & a consistent schedule. Set a goal for yourself. For example: “I work on project XYZ 30 minutes a day”. This sounds like not a lot of time, but it adds up over time. You slowly see progress and as long as you keep yourself to this schedule you slowly make progress.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Don’t set really high starting goals. You can’t expect to work on your project 2 hours a day while having a busy working day. When your schedule is small & not too hard it is a lot easier to stick with it for a really long time. I have a light schedule to write one hour a week on medium. It is not a large schedule, but I’ve been sticking to it for a while.

If you continue to do what you’ve always done you will continue to have what you’ve always had.
- Phil McGaw

Apply the Pareto principle

This is the famous 80% rule. Things don’t need to be perfect, don’t try to make everything perfect. This is a common pitfall a lot of people struggle with. You want to make your project or product perfect & totally forget that it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to work and people just need to use it. When you try to make it perfect you will have an infinite loop of iterations trying to make it even better. Eventually, you discover that you will never make it the way you want it to have and stop working on the project.

Just make it good enough for people to use it. Improvement can always occur later.

It will be difficult

If it was easy to create your idea or product, you won't have the idea to create it, since it already exists. Working on a hard thing changes the world. Inventing the first car was not easy. You will struggle & you will fail. But don’t give up on your idea. Every small failure is a small lesson for your future self, to become a better version & create a better version of your project.

I wrote this article to myself & to my friends who struggle with procrastination.

I am a young software engineer & data scientist who loves to write about the things that go around in my head