Keeping up with Your Ambitions

Having ambition – whether it be for self stimulus or an audience – is common among creators. However, this isn’t always easy.

As a creator myself, I often find my brain going in all sorts of directions. The ongoing projects that snag on my mind keep me motivated; however, if I focus on all at once, I honestly won’t achieve each idea to my fullest potential. But why is that?

In Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, full professor Adam Grant has mastered deep work at an elite level. 

Deep Work – put in short – is the act of distracted free concentration, which can create new and unrepeatable value to content in this world if done successfully. 

Newport interviewed Grant to learn how he’s achieved deep work while maintaining a work-life balance. A noteworthy way Grant produced material at an elite level was by sectioning off each piece of work into one long period; meaning, no multitasking

Multitasking nowadays is often identified as a skill in this screen-run world of advancing technologies and entrepreneurial attributes in organizations. However, juggling work is not the answer to achieve high-quality work, even if tasks need to be done in a short amount of time. Attention residue, introduced by Sophie Leroy in her article “Why Is It So Hard to Do My Work?” is an effect that comes with multiple projects, or moving quickly from one project to another. The residue left over from a previous task is often passed onto the next job, making the quality of work less valuable. This is important to understand when working with high ambitions.

If you’re a determined creator like I am, and have multiple light bulb ideas which are essential, here are a few steps to help keep those ambitions rolling:

  • Remove yourself from distractions. Give yourself a distraction-free workspace. This includes turning off or removing your phone from your space, which affects your cognitive ability. If working on a computer, don’t have email or any other tabs open unrelated to your task. Choose to work without music. Ensure that the time dedicated to your work is by yourself – no one else should be able to approach you during this time.
  • Dedicate to one project at a time. This helps to keep focus for the best outcome. If you’re worried about time, think of it this way: time used to master one task helps build the next one’s skills. By keeping focus and practicing your most productive approach will also lead to turning jobs around faster.
  • Give yourself a break. Once done or almost done with a project, take a break. Mentally move onto another part of your life – not another project just yet. Use this time to receive feedback from peers on your work so you can go back to refine it for the best outcome. 
  • Learn from the process. Using these steps is a form of deep work, where you can build your skills in the process of mastery. Keep your attention where it’s most productive – take advantage of what you learned from your previous task and adapt in order to develop your expertise.

Remember these steps and keeping up with your ambitions will become fluent!

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