Finding perpetual inspiration

I've been reading Execute this week, a book about how we can act on inspiration to create great things, fast. It tells the story of how Drew Wilson conceived, built and shipped a competitor to PayPal in a week (as if to make the point, Josh Long and Drew Wilson wrote the book itself in a week). One of the ideas that has resonated most strongly with me is the "inspiration battery".

It's all well and good getting pumped up and working hard when the inspiration from your latest great idea is fresh, but inspiration (and therefore motivation) comes and goes. We'd all get more done if we were perpetually inspired to do great things, but it doesn't tend to work like that.

The energy we get from feeling inspired can wane, but we can get it back (recharging the battery) by working on something that excites us. As Josh wrote:

Everyone of us has an element of what we do that we enjoy more than all of the others. For Drew, it's design. He loves it. [snip] Design recharges Drew.

It's useful to acknowledge that we shouldn't always work on the next most important thing. Maintaining our energy (through enjoyment and satisfaction) is often a more important factor for the progress we can achieve on a project.

Once you know which tasks recharge your batteries you can allow yourself to work on these things whenever you feel your motivation starting to wane.

I've sometimes struggled to justify to others quite why I've prioritised a particular feature, knowing full well that I've chosen to work on something that will keep me excited. As a recent example, Agile Planner had a fully fledged REST API before I'd enabled sign ups to the free trial.

I built the API earlier than necessary because I knew that I'd get fired up about the impact that it would have on the code, and would give me more opportunity to benefit from the hexagonal architecture that is evolving in Agile Planner.

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