Friday, February 7, 2014

Maintaining Momentum During a Project

Motivation is all about keeping interest in a project, and staying on track with it without our hobby ADD kicking in. Momentum on the other hand, is all about just straight up getting things done, and getting them done in a timely manner. The two are tied together closely, but are distinctly different.

In the past we've talked about how to stay motivated during a build-out of a force, but we've not really broached the subject of how to maintain a good momentum during a project. Considering I have less than two months to finish 1000 points of Salamanders, much less anything for Crystal Brush, momentum is a fairly pertinent subject for me right now.

So how can we maintain momentum in our hobby?
The biggest problem with hobbies in general is that they are hobbies. At work, I'm extremely task-oriented, deadline-driven and very organized with my priorities. I get to work in the morning, check emails, alter my to-do list for the day in an ever-evolving fashion, and then hit the ground running with a momentum built from the need to get certain things done that day that have to be done. This is what I get paid to do so I'm motivated to do it, but unless I build that momentum during projects with deadlines and proper time-management, the tasks just won't get accomplished by the time they should.

Hobbies however, have the misfortune to not pay the bills and to rightly play second fiddle to family, work and other responsibilities. We can be easily distracted from working on our hobbies on a consistent basis by these outside forces, thereby breaking any momentum we're able to start. And once momentum has been stopped, it takes work to get it started again and back to where it once was.

I think there is some kinda physics, or scientific evidence that proves my point somewhere…oh well.

So with all of these other parts of our lives vying for dominance in our day, I ask again; How can we maintain momentum in our hobby? I've got a few ideas...

Time Management
I wrote an article on how to use good time management with regards to our hobby, and rather than go through and quote random parts of it, I'll let you find it here. I will say though, that the ability to schedule time for your hobby is an integral part of maintaining momentum on a project. If you make the time for it, you'll work on it. If something more important interrupts, or overrides that time, you reschedule it and keep on keeping on, but you have to reschedule that time for your project. If you don't you'll just fall behind and be that much more likely to let another time to work on your little army men slip through your fingers.

Dedicated Work Space
I'm guilty of ignoring this point, and have only recently set up a dedicated work space for the hobby. If you're a hobby gypsy with your work space like I used to be, your projects are all over the house, moving from room to room depending on the day. Talk about breaking momentum! I didn't know where I could and couldn't work at times, and if we were having guests, everything had to be put away, which meant everything had to be gotten back out again when I could finally get back to it. With a dedicated work space, I can leave my projects where I left off, and pick them right back up again without wasting time setting everything back up, or tearing it all down. It also tends to keep the wife happy since my models don't take over the house any more.

Again, check out the article where I discuss deadlines as both a bane and a blessing in our hobby here. Indeed they can be both, though no one can debate that they are most definitely a motivator, and help drive momentum to get things done by a certain time. They also tie into Time Management to some extent, though aren't necessary for it. A deadline, so long as you keep to it, is a great tool to keep the momentum going on a project.

Keep it fresh! Eventually you will get sick of painting the same subject matter, the same color scheme over and over again. Toss in the occasional one-off model to paint or build, and take a break from the larger projects. As long as you are careful to not let this kick off a period of Hobby ADD and completely derail your current project, you'll actually find that you can maintain a steady momentum on your main focus after a short break. Just build in the time for them so that you don't throw your deadlines to the wind, and you won't get slowed down by the sheer monotony that some projects can induce.

I'm sure there are other thoughts on the subject, but these are the ones that have worked well for me in the past, as well as ones I'm finally putting into practice in the present. If you can find that magic balance in your hobby life that helps you to maintain momentum in your projects, you'll be astounded at the pace in which you actually get things done.

- Tim


  1. Even 5 minutes before I go to bed can chip away at my projects and relax me. I am one of the lucky creatives out there with an A type personality. The only drawback is that I can't leave any project unfinished. Ever. Makes it hard to switch gears if a cool on-line competition comes up or any other cool hobby opportunities that come up that are outside the current project. I am learning to be more flexible though.

  2. Great article, Tim!

    Hadn't really thought about how not having a dedicated workspace can kill your momentum. Batch painting and 40k audiobooks is how I crank through the model pile, I find that having most of my mind listening to the story keeps my hands busy without dwelling on how much there actually is to do. I'll also set a 'session goal' which is usually something along the lines of "I'm going to get these two colors on everything this session", rather than trying to get a whole model done in one sitting. It means that if I can get in an hour or so every few days, in the course of a week I find that suddenly there's 30 infantry all done at once!

    That also mean that when I switch it up and just paint 5 guys, it feels like I'm just flying through 'em! :)

    Can't wait to see the Salamanders come together - really looking forward to it!