I’ve been trying to make creative projects a major part of my life for several years, but get distracted by TV, video games, friends, family, work, etc. There’s always seems to be so much to do, I didn’t think I had the time or space to become a regular maker. But about a year ago I realized what a positive effect doing projects has on my well being. So I created a few guidelines to help me finally get focused. Since they’ve been helpful to me, I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Make useful objects and do useful projects.

Useful is a broad term. For me it means creating objects and doing projects that improve the space I live in, improve my knowledge, or are gifts. You can define your own useful scale, but ultimately you’ll be more motivated if you feel like the project is important.

2. Make challenging projects as well as easy ones.

Working on projects is a lot like playing video games. Some tax your brain and others let you zen out and just enjoy the ride. I like to work on easier projects to unwind in the evening and more challenging ones in the weekend. Doing both helps you learn new skills while also getting to enjoy the skills you’ve already developed.

3. Make projects that fit your space, but make the space for your projects.

I use to think my small apartment space was the reason I wasn’t making more things. But realistically you can do a lot without an outdoor space or fancy equipment. When I started focusing on projects that I could fit, it gave me permission to just get to work.

Inspired by a project that simply won’t fit? Give yourself permission to make space by seeking out Makerspaces. They cost, but are worth it if you’re actively using their resources.

4. Make new projects occasionally.

I love the “how” in “how things are made”, so I make it a priority to try out new skills regularly. For complicated projects with specialized equipment, workshops and classes can give you a feel for the skillset without a major layout of money or time. For projects that don’t require expensive tools, I find the Internet is full of people willing to teach you. Meet-up can also be a great place to learn the “how”.

5. Always find a way to conclude your project.

Currently “conclude” means “finish” to me, but I don’t necessarily think every project needs to be finished. Some probably can’t be. Conclude means bringing your project to a satisfactory end that lets you experience the challenges but without overwhelming your life. By focusing on finishing projects, I’m training myself to push through the hard parts to reach my goals.

What do you think? Does setting guidelines or rules for your creative endeavors help you focus? What are your personal Maker Guidelines?