Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Self Motivation and Time Management

First of all, I apologise for the rather personal outlook I put on this journal, but its been a subject that I've been meaning to get off my chest for a long time.

Self Motivation and Time Management.
These are two aspects of work that I find myself having a lot of trouble with, over the years I have become awfully complacent, procrastinating at every end, and I think to a degree I have become somewhat addicted to the internet, in all I really get distracted easily from the tasks at hand, which in my case would be university work.

I don't think I'm alone when it comes to lack of self motivation and time management, after doing some research leading me to some self motivational sites, I found some sites where their reasons for the lack of motivation, certainly rings home. Here's a list of reasons I found on one particular site:

1. Lack of Confidence

2. Lack of Focus

3. Lack of Direction

I think these describe where I am at the moment quite well, looking back at how I was when I first started university, I was enthusiastic I believed I could do great things, I was doing work on time and learning, however as time passed and I find myself not being so articulate with the likes of 3dstudio max say compared to my peers, I feel like I have barely accomplished anything. I understand that being in the game artist field I shouldn't really be thinking that, and I really don't want to but at times it really does cloud my mind.

However in my opinion it is the last two points which I think mostly lead to the lack of self motivation. Focus in particular, a lack of focus is a huge problem it leaves a person without a cause, making them believe their actions to be useless in the process if all they are working towards is nothing. In the case of our game course it's to become professional game artists, which I think helps with the overall focus of students, but there is a down side to this, one site described the lack of focus on ambitions due to a person focusing more on the failures of such ambitions. Using the course as an example we have "I will Fail and become a useless artist" "My skills are poor, how can I thrive in such a business" or actually in some cases "Can I handle the Game Art Industry with all its harsh conditions" which is only backed up by news of millions of workers being made redundant. While it may not necessarily affect me in the long term since I still have years to go, I feel like my goal of becoming a game artist somewhat wander, it does not help that becoming a game artist is my first truly strong ambition, for someone like me where for the majority of my life I had only thought about becoming an artist in whatever field, sticking to a career choice was a hard one yet one I'm willing to uphold.

I'm one who can be easily removed of his focus if I have other things in my mind, when my grandmother died I was distraught and the thought still makes me feel empty, these kind of thoughts almost make me lose focus instantly, worrying more about changes in my life as well my family and how they'll cope with the loss. While I do not blame it for my lack of self motivation, I can't help it when such news moves me so and take up most of my focus.
Which leads to how such things could be averted, at times I try to be optimistic, but usually it comes off hollow and mute, but the key to keeping focus is to aim for the grander things in life and as corny as it seem believe in your abilities to do so. Like in my case I should be focusing on my career goals, I should put aside my fears and really put all focus into what I want, the idea of going in with the idea of no defeat can be attributed here into the mental state I should use to approach work where I cannot focus on the failures but on the positive outcomes of my work, if my work is bad I should think about how to improve it, if I fail, think of a way to get you back on track. The key point here is to not accept defeat.

This brings me to the final point in the list, Lack of Direction, even if you have optimistic ideals if you go about them wrongly it will not lead to the desired results. If you have no idea of the importance of certain activities it can often lead to procrastination, something I am awfully guilty of. The site where I got the list from has an interesting take on how a blogger can lose focus when aiming to having a popular blog, they read more about how to make the ultimate blog than spending their time in actually making the thing. I guess this can be attributed to artists in that they can spend hours upon hours reading up on the latest techniques but in the end getting nowhere as they have failed to attempt to even practice these techniques. This is where it is important to prioritise your activities, because as it is, it is very easy to be distracted, in my case the internet itself where I spend more time ogling other people's work than working on my own or doing filler activities like checking my emails or replying to messages on facebook.
It is here where it is important to always have your important tasks on mind to avoid forgetting about them and leading to procrastination. For university students such as I the main priority will always be university work, which is something I too often forget. In fact so that I am reminded of so, these are what an artist in general should hold in priorities hierarchy;

1. If any work is to be handed in, be it university related, or even a commission or work, if there's a deadline, you must finish that work.
2. Practice, The more you practice the better you can be at providing quality work.
3. Everything else, this may seem vague but when my goal is to become a game artist I believe it's my work that will get me remotely anywhere in the industry.

I think not having such a complicated list is perfect to tackle this, it leaves your focus to be clear and precise. Which leads me to the next topic at hand, time management.
After all that, while you may have the motivation to do something, dedicating time to the wrong things or losing your focus because you have no clear time scale can lead to procrastination. I guess in a way it puts your priorities into perspective. It would be no good if you spend all your time working, while productive can lead to poor results because of fatigue, and well general burnout, there is only enough work one can handle and at times you should take a rest. This is where time management comes into play, you should organise your day around your priorities, create a timetable of sorts for you daily routine. This is where I have faltered in the past, I do not plan my days, it's always do what I do when it happens, which isn't a healthy lifestyle at all, there must be some degree of planning or else things like work can be overlooked.
To begin with recognise and understand your priorities, work should really come first in my case so I should dedicate the majority of my free time after classes to do some extra work, practice my skills etc, after I have planned that I can set aside time for other things like socialising or playing games. There is also the 80/20 rule, this rule states that 80 percent of our typical activities contribute less than 20 percent to the value of our work, so if you do the 20 percent of important activities you will get the most value out of your work. To follow the rule you should look at important urgent tasks first, ones that are more likely to get you into trouble or cause future problems, once they're out of the way you look at important long term tasks, if you work on these over time the quality of your work will be much better than if you prioritised these over the urgent tasks, and what follows is as I said before all leisure.

So in short to prevent a lack of self motivation and time management, one must have a clear grasp of goals and ideals and prioritise and balance the work that is needed to achieve them, it's no use going all out with work as it can lead to burnout, if you are aware of such things it can prevent wasting time and procrastination as you'll have a better grasp and control over the time you spend towards your goals.