You just have to start writing. Just start pressing the keys on the keyboard and don’t stop until you’ve written approximately 800 words. It sounds quite easy when I write it out loud. The simple act of typing this instruction into my google doc has in fact reduced the amount of words I now need to type to about 640.

Sometimes all you have to do is start and not worry about finishing. Finishing is a problem for later on. This week it feels like I’ve had to start a whole lot of new projects. This is obviously a positive thing when you're a freelance designer but I find that part just before you start something new to be the most daunting. 

At the very beginning of a new project there is normally a huge amount of hype around the outcome. The client is excited that they have engaged someone to help solve a business problem and you're excited because someone is going to pay you to be the problem solver. It’s a win-win situation.

What I find immediately afterwards, once the play button has been pushed is this slightly overwhelming feeling of dread. It's the moment when the reality of the enormity of a project is realised but you haven’t started yet. It’s just after the digital ink has dried on the contract.

In the business world there is a term called ‘Hofstadter’s Law’ which shows that people commonly underestimate the time required to complete tasks even when there is information available to suggest the estimate is unreasonable. We do it all the time. How often do you think it's going to take you 20 minutes to go get some milk from the supermarket and it actually takes 40 minutes. Cooking a dinner that should’ve taken 30 minutes but you're eating it an hour and a half later. We consistently underestimate the time things are going to take even though we know that it will probably take longer.

‘Hofstadter’s Law’ or ‘planning fallacy’ is used to describe the underestimation of costs and over estimations of benefits that occur on the majority of large scale projects. In How Big Things Get Done by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner their research shows that only something like 8.6% of the major projects they researched got completed on time and on budget. These aren’t intentional miscalculations by the way. It’s the nature of projects of this scale - of any scale really. We’re just not very good at estimating. 

I’m not suggesting that I over or under deliver on anything but I certainly get caught up in the excitement of the planning and negotiation stage with the client. It’s fun and everyone is vibing off each other. I’m sure not everyone's project negotiations are like that but thankfully most of mine are! 

Once I’ve calmed down and get ready to start the project I realise how much work actually has to be done. Depending on the project, this feeling could be fleeting but sometimes it might be a few days or weeks before you have time to start. The angst caused by this inaction often exaggerates the size of the project. 

The solution, of course, is to start. Just take the first step.

It’s like running (my favourite analogy). I love running but I find it difficult to get started so I just start moving. I literally and metaphorically put one foot in front of the other and soon enough I’m running. Sometimes spending just a second thinking about the 6km run I’d like to achieve is too overwhelming. I don’t want to run 6km at 6am in the morning but once that first foot moves in front of the other I AM running 6km at 6am in the morning. 

This week I’ve not let the fear of starting something new get in the way of actually starting something new. Instead of looking at the clock and thinking it’s only 15 minutes till lunch, I probably shouldn't start anything… I’ve been looking at the clock and thinking sweet, I’ve got 15 minutes to do something.

Sometimes it's as simple as writing a to-do list. Organising how I’m going to spend the next few remaining hours at work for the day. Sometimes I just open up a file and start working on it - even though I know that I’ll probably not get the task finished before lunch. Not surprisingly this has been a great week for billable hours.

There are lots of marvellous sayings from smart people about not letting yourself get in the way of achieving your goals, none of which I can remember right now… but one thing I do know is that you can’t do it, if you don't do it. Taking that first step is all you have to focus on. Then you take the next step and at no time at all, you’ll be running.

Video of the week
The Curse of the Country Song (documentary)
Podcast of the week
The Futur: Jump as high as you can with Vinh Giang
Font of the week
Kyrios: Font of the week by Arrow Type

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