Focus is doing things with a clear intention and making sure that all your decisions match your intention. When working on a project, the following questions might be useful in finding a focus:
What is the main problem you are solving?
Who are the people you're trying to solve this problem for?
What is the emotion or feeling you want to evoke among others benefiting from your project?
Is your implementation aligned with the problem you're trying to solve?
Is this the project most likely to successfully solve this problem?
"Focus doesn’t mean you charge single-minded toward a goal. It means you pay rapt and incremental attention to how you need to turn the rudder on a project." - Fidji Simo, VP Product at Facebook
Keep yourself in a routine of asking yourself these questions to keep yourself in check that what you're doing is motivating you to focus on the intention of your work and question whether or not your intentions are the correct ones and whether or not your recent decisions align with those intentions. Reflection is key into understanding what motivates you to move your project forward.
There will be many times where you'll find yourself uninspired or overwhelmed. It's important to be aware that even though you might be super passionate about an idea you have, it's totally normal to feel unenthused by it at times. Taking a day to a week off allows your mind to shift focus a bit and work on something else. You'll find that taking a break will leave you much more refreshed with new ideas and insight into the project you are building. Still not convinced? Check out this article on it.
"Instead of thinking about the problem without stop, we need to create distractions that take our attention away from the task at hand so we can come back at it with a fresh mind."
In cases of extreme burnout, you may need to make a bigger shift, either by looking for a new job or taking some time off. Ambitious people often feel guilty or like they’re wasting time when they take a break, but career coach Yunzhe Zhou stresses the importance of rethinking that mindset. “I would reframe that and say if you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed, you should take that as a signal that your brain and body are trying to tell you something,” Zhou says. “Take that as an opportunity to do something new.”
Side projects can be a major commitment. When planning out what you need to do to accomplish your goals and objectives for the project, think small. Approach what you need to do with bit-size tasks that seems manageable to accomplish. When you're bogged down one week and see a giant project in front of you, you'll rarely get things done if you can't take a large objective and divide it into mini sub-tasks to be handled week over week. A great way to think about breaking up your project is asking yourself the following:
What broader problem am I trying to solve? Where does my passion lie within this problem?
What are 1-3 goals I have for my project that I'm trying to achieve?
What are the key tactics I need to accomplish to achieve my project's goals?
How can I ensure these tactics are in line with my broader vision?
Are there ways to achieve the majority of my project's goals with minimal effort?
When you approach your project with daily or weekly "action items," you'll feel much more accomplished when you complete these tasks as you go on. As you get feedback on the completion of these tasks, you'll feel more on track with your project timeline.
In order for you to not only get started on an idea but also keep it going, you need to constantly keep yourself aligned with what you're trying to achieve. It may sound obtuse, but in order for you to keep going, it's helpful to look back at the goals you set out at the beginning and see how far you've come. It can be incredibly motivating to see that you're halfway or 2/3 there.
On the other hand, if you feel that your goals have changed, shift gears. Pivoting during a project can be just as motivating as staying consistent with your initial vision. If you find something more interesting about your project that you'd like to pursue, we highly recommend trying it out and see if it sticks with you.