I love the weekend.
I know, I know. So does everybody else. But, I’m very fortunate I also love my job.
The two are my mac and cheese. The peanut butter and jelly. The cookies and milk. You see, I have this problem where I feel like I am being “driven by a motor.” My weekends are my chance to spin out into unknown territory. A few years ago I realized that I simply loved to learn, and so that’s how I spend my free time.
Typically that means that I will have no less than 3–6 irons in the fire at any given time. That could be building software, setting up a Shopify store, helping my wife’s small business, building an IoT product or any number of other projects.
It used to bother me that none of these side projects would ever see the finish line, until I realized that completing them wasn’t the objective; learning was.
Normally I am super passionate about all of these side projects, and I cant wait to tinker with them. What I learn with each project fuels the fire at work, and the cycle continues.
Running out of gas
Very rarely though, I just hit a wall.
That’s what happened last weekend, I just felt completely de-motivated. I wasn’t thrilled about any of my side projects. Instead of feeling inspiring, they just felt like a burden, like a big elephant on my back
This frustrated me, until I had an epiphany. I could hack this brief window where I was completely not-passionate about my projects to actually get more done.
It sounds counter-intuitive at first, but hear me out.
You see, when I am excited about a project, I can’t stop. Feature after feature gets added, just so I can learn some snazzy new technique. I scope creep on myself big time.
But this past weekend I had had enough. I just wanted a clean slate, to be done with it all and start fresh.
It isn’t done until it ships
So I tied up all the loose ends. Instead of finishing drafts, I just deleted them. I didn’t put a bow on anything, I simply shut the lid. I spent about 2 hours sweeping all of the dirt under the rug. I put all of the dirty laundry under the bed. And then I shipped.
And then I grabbed my favorite sharpie and crossed that project off my list.
I knew I wasn’t finished forever, but man, that sure felt good. And then I realized, I had actually accomplished more by being de-motivated about that project than I had ever accomplished during periods of strong passion and excitement. I’d decluttered my brain and given myself a fresh start.
Productivity comes from within
Marketing automation software is incredible for productivity. I tell everybody when they are getting started to write down the pieces of their job that they love and those that they dislike but have to do. Then figure out a way to automate the latter.
Without fail, a pattern emerges. The part of work that everybody dislikes are the chores. The repetitive, monotonous work. It’s human nature to want to be challenged, to solve the puzzles. Thats why we love stories with a level of mystery to them. Westworld was a hit TV show because nobody knew what the hell was going on, but everybody was trying to figure it out.
That’s why I love automation software so much. We can spend more of our brain cycles fulfilling our puzzle-solving passions; photographers can spend more time on set, chefs can spend more time in the kitchen, writers can spend more time writing. Marketing automation software allows us to focus on the craft that attracted us to this line of work in the first place.
But automation software can only take you so far. Sometimes what you need is some self-reflection and emotional intelligence to understand what you can do to unlock your own productivity.
Even when you don’t feel like it.
Especially when you don’t feel like it.