Ânia Marcos
Ânia Marcos

The Secret To Getting Started :: How I Stay Productive Throughout My Children’s Book Project (Part 2)

In order to become and stay more productive throughout my goals, I started to track the struggles I faced while working on my ongoing children’s book project, and how I overcome them. This is part 2 of the series.

In part 1 we talked about the most common problem I encounter when setting up my goals and how to tackle it.

Today, I share how puzzles helped me figure out the best way to get started on my book:

It All Started with A Bet

I loved puzzles since I was a little kid. One day my elder sister challenged me to complete her 150 pieces puzzle in less than a week. If I won, I’d get seven ice creams.

…but if I lost, I had to clean her room for a full month.

I only had some hours after school days, so I had to come up with a strategy.

Looking at the puzzle box, I realized that if I spent a day laying down the pieces and organizing them into groups of the same color, I had a better chance of completing the task in time.

I finished the puzzle on the 5th day. No weekends (and yes, I got all my ice-cream!).

What I didn’t realize that day, was the lesson I learned that stuck with me ever since.

Lay Down All The Pieces Before You Start Working

A project is like a puzzle box: you can’t start until you open it, grab all the pieces and lay them down. If you try to complete the puzzle when all the pieces are facing down and scrambled in the box, you’ll probably freeze from overwhelm and get nothing done.

In part 1 of this blog series, I wrote down my goals for the year. Each one is a puzzle box: create a children’s book, keep up with my blog, learn Japanese, etc. I could only start working on them after I understood what pieces were inside each box.

Creating a children’s book means that I have to write the story, review it and go back to writing many times. I have to decide on the format of the book and which images I’m painting, and do thumbnails for each one. Research other books, do writing exercises and study story. Create a dummy book, design the book…

I’m sure I’m missing a lot of pieces, but suddenly, starting my book didn’t feel as vague and overwhelming.

…and I had a rough story down on paper on the same day.

What Are Your Puzzle Pieces?

Now that you have decided on your projects, what actionable to-dos can you list for each one of them?

It might look counter-intuitive, but spending the time to lay down all the pieces does speed up the process in the long run!

Can’t wait to know more about your project next steps in the comment section below! 🙂


PS: The next post is about bundling tasks together to optimize impact while saving energy.

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  1. Pat marconett - 2 years ago

    Very cool. Breaking things down into smaller tasks is always helpful for me. I’ve also noticed having multiple types of tasks to jump around to can be helpful. Like if I’m having a bad drawing day, it might be a good chance to edit the writing or update the website or assemble the finished pages into the dummy book. About 6 months from finishing my first book I started writing the next one so that once the 1st was done I would have a solid foundation to jump into.

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      That’s a super interesting idea, Pat! Starting the second project while you’re finishing the first. Did it make it easier to keep going? I’m imagining that finishing one project completely before starting another makes it harder to transition. How did that go for you?

      • Pat marconett - 2 years ago

        So for me I always need some kind of art personal project to work on outside of work. So if I had to take a several month break to write a new book I would get really antsy and I would probably try to rush through the writing stage. So this way I always had stuff to draw 🙂

  2. Ricardo E. Martinez - 2 years ago

    Great post Ania! I love your metaphor of the goal as a puzzle box, and the actionable steps as the puzzle pieces. So awesome! Definitely helping me to fight overwhelm and complete my projects.

    • aniamarcos - 2 years ago

      Thank you, Ricardo! Your comment just made my day <3 I'm really happy my posts are helpful!! Please keep me posted on your projects!!

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