Space Shuttle Endeavor Blast-off

Some might argue that working every day on your personal projects can cause a burnout due to the constant strain you put on yourself. You don’t feel comfortable being shackled to a daily schedule, especially when you haven’t yet developed a habit out of it. But also, if you take a longer break you will, in turn, need a lot of acceleration to get back into orbit.

When you first start out, you are tempted to accomplish as much as you can in a short period of time. And when you are still “blessed” with this temporary passion and enthusiasm, you easily believe that nothing can stop you from working toward your goal. By all means, don’t trust your first emotions. This impulse is treacherous and should not be trusted. Working too hard in the beginning introduces an unrealistic routine to your life, which gradually becomes harder and harder to follow as you realize that life doesn’t revolve around a single project. The initial surge of excitement only keeps you going for so long. Then it slows down, and transforms into a drag. I guess most of us would be millionaires it if did last forever.

You have to find the sweet spot that lets you maintain excitement but doesn’t extinguish it. So how should you budget your time so that it doesn’t damage your passion?

A little bit every day

I used to follow my instincts and immerse myself in whatever I had gotten interested in, and the result I got was an incurable burnout. But all that changed when I learned something new from my mistakes. I learned that if spurts were the primary cause of burnouts I should start doing less but do it more consistently.

If you can control your impulses and limit your workload, you’ll notice that things don’t get easily burdensome. You can stay more committed to your project without having to sacrifice all other aspects of life. By following this path of doing less at a time, you are able to accelerate uniformly and gain momentum that flings you further into a productive habit.

Momentum = Habit

Momentum is ultimately what habits are about. We could say that the moon revolves around the earth due to a cosmic habit (caused by gravitation). Similarly, we might say that Andrew Carnegie’s success was the product of his habits—in other words, the deeds that led him to success because he never gave up.

Your Task

Now, if you think that you’re in need of changing your time-management habits because you have a tendency to lose momentum on your projects and tasks, I suggest that you try the following.

  1. Stop working on your project until you complete this task.
  2. Stop thinking about accomplishing a lot in a short time.
  3. Think how much of your daily time you should invest in your project.
  4. Break your tasks into smaller bits so you can reduce the amount of time you work on them daily.
  5. If you’re unsure whether you should cut a single-day task in half, cut it in half anyway.
  6. Schedule your tasks and set time limits. Example: Day 1 – Learn how to create a while loop in PHP (60 minutes); Day 2 – Learn how to create a for loop in PHP (60 minutes)
  7. Don’t schedule too much for one day. I’ve noticed that allocating 60 minutes per day to learning a skill is enough in most cases.
  8. If your time limit is too demanding, don’t be afraid to postpone the completion of the task. You’ve done plenty for the day, so you should be congratulating yourself.
  9. Do allow yourself to have a day off (e.g. weekends).
  10. Share your tips in the comments. 🙂