Mike Wilkenmann is an ordinary guy. In fact, most people don’t know about him. But Mike did something very important. He made in impact on someone. He made an impact on me.
I listened to Wilkenmann’s talk on vimeo, where he discusses a 7 year project called “Everdays”. The idea of the project is straightforward- he must create something every single day without exceptions. It is incredibly simple, but makes a huge impact because of 1 fact
Mike hasn’t missed a day in 7 years
He doesn’t do the same thing, it’s not about the content, and he doesn’t force rules on himself as to what he should create. It’s about forcing himself to create.
So far Wilkenmann has created around 2900+ items. No matter how good or bad they are, he has definitely learned a lot. In fact, because of this project he was able to leave his job and get a new one, doing 3D designs and animations (what some of the everydays are dedicated to).
While what Mike has done is really impressive, there are some areas where I personally wouldn’t go as far. For example, he has been bringing his laptop on camping trips, planning to take batteries so that he can do the “Everydays” project. I respect the determination and commitment, but wouldn’t do it the same way.
Still, after seeing Mike’s work I really was inspired to give it a go myself. There are so many things I want to try and play with, that I never have the time to do. Such a project seems like the perfect playground to force myself and just do them.
In my case it is mainly about design, coding or photography, but it can be about anything. My first everyday was on the 17 of June 2015 and you can see the projects here.
Moreover, I don’t put the pressure on myself to do them every day (even though I have so far). I am committing to “Everydays” from Monday to Friday. On weekends only if I want to and have the time.
The power of constraints
We lose a lot of our time wondering on what to do next. When we eventually figure that out, we try to decide on when to do it. By the time we are ready a distraction comes and we forget about the whole thing.
Constraints are good, they force you to get something done
Constraints can give you a schedule, so you don’t have to wonder when to do something. Cause you have limited time you have to start doing.
A schedule doesn’t allow you to procrastinate.
Having the pressure of a specific time and a specific thing to do, removes all the variables that add up to procrastination. There are none of the “figure it out” type barriers, so you can go ahead and do what you have to do when you have to do it.
Constrains stimulate creativity
Have you ever been told “Write about whatever you want”? The options are overwhelming. If you don’t know whether what you write will be judged, how it will be evaluated and what the context is, you simply can’t decide on the “right” subject. There are no rules to help you reduce the options to a choice that “makes sense”.
However, imagine you were given a challenge to write your biography in 2 pages? Or to write one sentence about your city every day. Suddenly you get ideas about different perspectives, about details you would look at. It excites you. There is a specific problem to solve and you have to be creative to overcome it’s constrains and produce something meaningful.
I have seen myself procrastinate every day because a wave of notifications and all sorts of distractions take my attention. Listening about Mike’s “Everydays” project I became inspired to use my time better. That’s why I am committing to do something from Monday to Friday and post it.
Are you struggling with either procrastinating or not knowing where to start? Try adding filters and constraints. Commit to do a little step every day, but be specific – set a time and a clearly defined action.