Idea Surplus Disorder and Enthusiasm Attenuation

A problem with being a creative person with diverse skills and knowledge (a multipotentialite) is that you always have more ideas than resources or time. These ideas don’t come on a useful schedule or at a steady tempo, but they come with a package of enthusiasm and drive to see them come to fruition. Some ideas are tiny ideas, so a tiny spark of motivation gets them done – “I should change my profile picture on [social network] to X”. Often, however, ideas of larger scales only come with a small supply of inherent motivation to see them through – “Maybe I should just run for office” is a huge undertaking that most would give up before they even have the nomination requirements.

Something I battle with is that I have a large amount of enthusiasm for almost all of my new ideas – only it comes with some secret, unknown-to-me expiration date. I might have a great idea on a Monday, decide I’ll work on it for 2-4 days, then by Friday, the enthusiasm is both waning and eclipsed by some newer idea. Projects that I consider “worth doing” continue to progress, but they’re no longer ‘blissful productivity’. I’m no longer in ‘flow’ when I’m working on them. It’s a slog to get through the next item on the tasklist for that idea.

So, I’m undertaking an interesting challenge – I’m going to be tracking idea enthusiasm attenuation. Right now, I’m frustrated by the fact that I come up with great ideas, don’t commit the time needed while I can find ‘flow’ in that ‘idea honeymoon’, and many ideas don’t get through to completion. I want higher completion rates, but my great coach is always saying “you can’t fix what you can’t measure”. I also want to try to tweak the environment for ideas: what if they get prime time instead of spare time? What if I involve more people? What if I jabber publicly about what I’m trying to achieve?

I’d like more feedback into this too. I need to know how it works for me personally, but there’s lots of information that can be had that may lead to improvements for all.

Baseline info to gather:

  1. Rough Idea description (please don’t send this to me if you send me your info, just noting what I want to record)
  2. First guess idea of time required (2h, 2w, 20y?)
  3. For the following 30 days, on a scale of 1-10, what is the enthusiasm for that idea? (10 being I can’t sleep/eat without thinking about it.)
  4. If the enthusiasm is the same or higher on one day over the previous, what factors affected that level?
    1. Rest/sleep
    2. Available time (naturally)
    3. Available time (made time available for specifically)
    4. Time(s) of day worked on (maybe there’s ‘peak creative’ time or few in the day)
    5. Discussion with
      1. 1 friend
      2. 2-5 friends
      3. 5+ friends
    6. Getting more people involved in the idea:
      1. 1 friend
      2. 2-5 friends
      3. 5+ friends
    7. Public level of disclosure (particularly social networking or blogs)
      1. Zero. No direct mention or explanation
      2. Minimal – a general mention to friends online
      3. Semipublic – a general explanation publicly
      4. Detailed private – ongoing updates about current steps, next steps – only to friends
      5. Detailed public – publicly posting ongoing updates about current steps, next steps

What I’m hoping is that, with a big pile of data, maybe I (and any others who want to play along) can figure out how to swing from idea to idea more effectively, as well as extend the lifespan of enthusiasm for those ideas.

Contact me if you want to help shape and/or participate in this project.

About the author

Jeremy Vyska Jeremy is a technology enthusiast and often plays the part of "wise old man" to his friends and peers.