Progress begets progress. Similar to the laws of physics around momentum, when you start seeing progress, you are more inclined to take further action. For an ongoing project that has already been made public, progress is embodied by the feedback and testimonials from those that encounter our creations. For projects that are still under wraps, progress reveals itself as lists of completed action steps or old drafts that have been marked up and since updated. With these relics of actions already taken, our instinct might be to throw them away. After all, the work is completed! But some exceptionally productive creatives savor these relics as testaments to their progress. And some go as far as surrounding themselves with it.
The reason being that the inspiration to brainstorm comes easy, but the inspiration to take action is rare. Especially amidst heavy, burdensome projects with hundreds of action steps and milestones, it is emotionally invigorating to surround yourself with progress. Why throw away the residue of your achievements when you can create an inspiring monument to getting stuff done? Some teams, including ours at Behance, have even created "Done Wall’s" that catalog completed Action Steps. The Done Wall is a piece of installation art that reminds you and your team of the progress you’ve made.
We all need to see incremental progress in order to feel confident in our creative journeys. Proof of this concept can be found with the analogy of waiting on line. If you find yourself in a long line of people waiting to get into a concert, you will notice that everyone keeps inching forward every few minutes as the line starts to move. But if the person immediately in front of you fails to move with the rest of the line, you get irritated. Even though you know that they will eventually move to catch up with the line later, you get frustrated as you see the space ahead growing. You want to keep moving with the line in order to feel progress. The incremental movements with the line don’t get you there any faster, but they feel good.
Feeling progress is an important part of execution. If our natural tendency is to generate ideas rather than take action on existing ideas, then surrounding ourselves with progress can help us focus. Visual progress boosts productivity. So, when you make incremental progress, decorate your walls with it. If you gather attention around your team's progress, and your team will likely make more of it.
***This article is adapted from the research and writing of Scott Belsky and the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.