You will at some point struggle with the following (we all do): writer's block, trying to boil the ocean, perfectionism.
This post is not going to be your definitive cure for these self-imposed ailments. You'll never be cured. You just have to learn how to live life with these ever-present inner demons.
This post is about three exercises, hacks, or tricks that might get you back to doing things instead of worrying over things.
Don't focus too much on the details of these exercises. Your current situation is probably different from the one I'm describing here.
Instead, try to read them as inspiration. You can do any of these exercises even if you're having writer's block. They all have a finishing line that tells you when you're done (so you don't have to listen to your perfectionist brain to know when to stop).
Limit your lines of code to 500 or a set your working hours
As a developer or designer you want to start building your body of work early on. If you're just starting out, you probably want to have some projects on your GitHub, Behance, Dribbble, or your personal site that you can showcase to potential clients and employers.
But you don't know where to start. You have a hundred different ideas for your project. They all seem equally exciting but you can only pick one.
You also don't know how to finish. On your laptop, there are dozens of unfinished projects that you've given up on.
Choose a project that you can write in 500 lines of code or less. Once you start coding, make sure you don't go over that limit. Focus on the core functionality of your project. Once you hit 500 lines, you should have that core functionality working. You're done and ready to publish.
For UI and design work, set a time limit for yourself. Not a deadline for next week but a specific amount of hours you're allowed to work on the project. Make sure you have something publishable when those hours are done.
Email five people
You have a product that can help thousands of people. You have a message that needs to be heard by millions.
You're trying to figure out what's the most scalable way to reach all those people. You do a lot fantasizing and planning but very little actual contacting.
You are trying to boil the ocean.
Let's be realistic for a second. You're not going to reach even a hundred people today.
Email five people. Start from that. Write authentic emails to people for whom you have something to give. Don't send the same exact email with modified subject lines to those five people. Each of them deserve a unique, personal message from you.
Write 300 words of anything
Sometimes I feel empty when I need to start writing my next blog post. I have no energy for writing. All my post ideas feel bad.
I'm reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This is the advice she gives her creative writing students struggling with writer's block:
"I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing — just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic."
It doesn't have to be perfect. You just have to write.