Get Stuff Done

October 16, 2013

Today we open up a new topic here on Doodle Alley. Now that we have our goals written and understand the road to improvement, how do we learn to motivate ourselves to move forward? Stay tuned! More to come.

By the way, if you missed it I’m currently raising funds on Kickstarter to publish the book this essay was taken from– Brick by Brick! Check out the video for the kickstarter below:

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28 Responses to Get Stuff Done

  1. Erin on October 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    On the short term, I motivate myself by setting daily goals on a project that I’m working on. Add one feature here, fix a bug there, comment a section of code (I’m a software engineer).

    I’m currently trying to develop a game, but it’s hard to keep motivation going when I don’t know what I want the final product to look like. Long term goals have never been my strong point.

    • stephen on October 16, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Yeah, pre-visualization is difficult– as soon as you know what a project is supposed to be, it’s clearer what you’re supposed to do. Have you written down how you want to distribute the game, and who the game is built for?

      • Erin on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

        Great suggestion – going forward, I’ll have to use those points in my plan!

  2. Mary Claire Marck on October 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Oh my. This is me. But not in the past-tense D:

    I can’t wait to see where this leads!

    • stephen on October 16, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks Mary! I hope the essays to come are helpful to you!

  3. Jason Ogayon on October 16, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    What has been working for me is limiting my major goals for any given month to no more than three things. I write those things (they should be specific) the day before the month starts and evaluate myself at the end of the month about how many hours I put in and why didn’t I make as much as I hoped to, and see if there’s something I can improve on. I treat my work process as an experiment and every end of the month I surprise myself with things I find.

    There’s only so much we can achieve at any given period of time. What matters is that we find joy in the work we decided to do and we help others along the way. It’s really difficult to find that sweet spot in the balance between work and play in our day-to-day lives but it is something worth seeking.

    Anyway, I’m really glad you now have your Brick by Brick project. I probably won’t be able to help you with Kickstarter (don’t have a debit/credit card yet) but I want you to know that I’m cheering you on. Eventually I’ll get a copy of your book. Eventually I’ll create one myself too, as I am inspired by you. Have a good day, Stephen! :)

    • stephen on October 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      That’s a very systematic approach– I’ll have to look into that. Thanks Jason! Keep in touch!

  4. Ben Kreis on October 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Keep up the good work, Stephen.

    • stephen on October 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks Ben!

  5. Satpreet Kahlon on October 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Love your use of color. I think every young creative has struggled through this process at some point (or still is) (ie: me).

    Good luck with your Kickstarter! :)

    • stephen on October 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you!

  6. AnxiousA on October 18, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I’m going through this phase of my life currently. I’ve just graduated collage this Spring and have a small and a big project that I’m working with a publisher to put out. The problem is, I’m having a hard time staying productive because there isn’t that WORK or DIE stress hover over my head that I was used to experiencing in art college. It’s been very difficult to keep moving forward on the projects because of this.

    However, I’ve found that one thing defiantly helps me focus and keep up my productivity. It’s going somewhere I’ve set in my head as a “work space”. And I’m not talking specifically about a studio (although that is the ideal for me personally) but also going to cafes with internet or to a place away from a bedroom or home. In the past few months, I’ve found that going out to get work done is the best option.

    I’m really excited to see what other say because this has been such an issue for me personally!
    Good luck with the Kickstarter!


    • stephen on October 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm


      I think my work situation would be helped significantly if I could find a space to work that’s not my room. But I can’t drag my cintiq around– what do I do? Also, it seems like when you work on a computer, your work space blends with your home space. You can work, or you can check twitter…

  7. Neens on October 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

    This is so true for many of us – and even the most motivated freelancers have days like this, the one thing I have learnt is that success comes from a lot of hard work – you can achieve your dreams but not just by sleeping!

    I use a monthly Action Plan (I forgive myself for falling behind and invariably find more submission details than I will have time to produce work from.) I have been working very hard laying foundations this year and know that it will be a while before I make any money… I also know – one day – this will be all I do. :-)

    • stephen on October 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      That’s exciting! Keep up the diligence!

  8. root on October 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Recently I’ve discovered something that’s been very effective for me in cultivating good work habits: rather than making completing a specific, definable task every day (draw x number of things, finish the pencils for so many pages, etc.) my goal, I’ve shifted it to logging a specific number of hours of work every day. Completing a task is something I can procrastinate, and something I can then beat myself up over for failing to meet. But if I’m putting in the hours? The tasks get done as a natural consequence of that.

    • stephen on October 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      I like that a lot– I’ve tried to do that before– perhaps I’ll implement it again.

  9. John Myers on October 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve found having a soul-crushing day jobs helps serve as motivation*, if only because working on my own projects feels so rewarding by comparison.

    *Note: avoid this strategy at all costs.

    • stephen on October 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      We need to find you a new job bro!

  10. FerreTrip on October 29, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Page three is genius layout. This is also a great mini-essay.

    DAMMIT I NEED FIVE DOLLARS TO BACK THIS WONDERFUL THING AND GET A COPY. Hell, I need 20 to get a physical copy. I’ve only read a few comics, but so far, this whole book seems to be hitting the nail on the head a lot of the time. I think I (and my mother, who’s working on a novel) will appreciate reading through this whenever I’m feeling down. Hell, this is something not just for artists, but for everyone on the planet.

    The human mind is capable of achieving absolutely amazing things. Its biggest obstacle, however, is itself. Seems that this book is teaching it how to overcome itself and do those amazing things, no matter what they are. Awesome on a stick, man!

    • stephen on October 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thansk Ferre!

  11. Allen on December 4, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I was totally into this and captivated until it turned I to yet another sales pitch to “buy my e-book about all the lessons I learned getting work done. You can learn too! Get work done!”

    • stephen on December 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      Oh, you just need to click the next button to continue reading. 190 pages of my 208 page book are available for free on this website– that’s 90 percent of the book. My aim in selling a pdf is not to create barriers to good ideas but to feed myself while I create more content like this. Have a nice day!

  12. Sofia on December 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

    Loved this one! I refer back to your work often for inspiration. So, first of all thank you Stephen for what you do!

    One practice that I’ve found helpful, especially when I feel stuck or unproductive (I got this from productivity coach, Brendon Burchard) is to write down 3 successes at the end of each day. They can be big or small.

    OK, yeah you may have spent an hour browsing the internet, another hour window shopping, and two playing World of Warcraft, but during your web search maybe you stumbled upon a new artist who inspires you; or you smiled at the stranger window shopping next to you; or you made a new friend on WoW who could possibly be a collaborator on a future project.

    Every moment opens an opportunity for growth. We get to choose whether we focus on what we loose or on what we gain. Obviously our motivations need parameters within which to operate and are best dictated by our values, but that is for another conversation. My Facebook browsing lead to Brick by Brick and I’m grateful for it!

    • stephen on December 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Positive thinking is powerful! Isn’t it? Thanks!

  13. Regina on December 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I read through the comments as well and have to agree with this person that set to set an x amount of hours each day.
    For myself I notice when trying to get a major thing down if I’m stuck somewhere it only turns worse. Though thinking back on high school when doing a lot of art also aside of the subject you want to have done gets you inspiration and practice on speed simply because you’re doing something. Alongside to that when you set an amount of time, when you’re in the middle of something great and your time runs out you’re only looking forward more to complete it the next day which gives back the feeling as child just drawing at every moment without inspiration seeming to run out. Ever.
    For myself lately I have health issues to which even household tasks are often a pain in the ass to get done, let alone to find any energy for art (From all symptoms it looks like CFS but technically I’m still working, got down to a point of barely eating from nausea when tired, severe dizziness to be compared being piss drunk despite not having touched a drop of alcohol and even my eyes often won’t focus to what I’m doing making it hard to draw or read resulting in headaches and painful eyes)
    I’ve tried before to set an amount of drawing per day despite my art not being a profession and I notice it keeps the fire burning and keeps your wrists in practice. I’d say go for that instead of burning yourself out by having too high goals :)

  14. Abhishek on January 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    That was very encouraging Stephen..!!! :)

  15. CH on December 17, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    What do you do when you want to draw but can’t think of anything to draw? If I was asked to draw anything I wanted, I couldn’t think of a thing to do. I just like directions, a path to follow.

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