Peer Pressured Productivity For Your Labour of Love


Five Minutes With Extraordinary Routines founder Madeline Dore

Why did you launch Side Project Sessions?

Through my own side project [blog], Extraordinary Routines, I’ve interviewed hundreds of successful artists, writers, entrepreneurs and creatives. Despite being at the top of their field, I heard people say how difficult it is to prioritise their personal work or be distracted. Side Project Sessions was born out of this – a fortnightly event in Melbourne offering accountability, space, time and a routine to take your ideas further. It’s peer-pressured productivity.

You talk about FOBO –  what is that?

I first came across the term FOBO in a piece by the entrepreneur Thomas Oppong. He describes the ‘fear of better options’ as the relentless pursuit of all possible options for fear that you’ll miss out on the best one. At its worst, FOBO leads to indecision, frustration, stress, regret, and unhappiness, as we fear we will make the wrong decision. That’s why we dedicated a Side Project Session to the topic.

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What are the warning signs you’ve let it take over?

Creatively, I’ve often felt a sense of overwhelm without being able to pinpoint the root cause. One sign that such fear is dominating my perspective is when my to-do list becomes unruly. I know I’m trying to do everything and follow a plethora of paths at once, for fear of missing out on new options or opportunities. In effect, I don’t allow myself to do a few important things well.

How can you combat it? 

We can never be certain about where our choices will lead us, so we can only take one step at a time. It’s important to remember that perfection is an impossible goal. A helpful technique, which Thomas recommends, is called ‘satisficing’ – a decision-making strategy that aims for a satisfactory or adequate result, rather than the optimal solution. Accept that our work (and our lives!) will take us in surprising directions.

Can FOBO be a good thing?

The thing about FOBO is that it puts us in a standstill, rather than driving us forward. It can be helpful to survey the options available to us, but we can’t get caught up in deciding which is the ‘right’ one – as I said, that’s impossible to know. The most important ingredient in creativity is momentum, to build skills, explore new terrain, move through mistakes and see the potential of our work. It requires making a decision in order to be propelled forward. So, keep moving! 

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