I have found that frustration is common in digital projects. This observation has been reaffirmed through this project, through past projects, and through supporting other students in carrying out their digital projects in my capacity as a GC Digital Fellow. It can be uncomfortable or annoying, and sometimes utterly debilitating if it begins to breed self-doubt. This seems especially true in earlier projects where you have fewer coping mechanisms for surviving and completing these projects.

This note is for this newer crowd – those of us who are taking on an idea for a digital project for the first time or taking a next step, who may also be beginning to realize that there are snags and hangups and workarounds required at nearly every step of the project. These are some survival strategies that work for me.

  • Lessen my expectations for what I can do – not overall, but in a day. In other words, I try to be “realistic” in what I set out to achieve. The reason I say “lessen my expectations” is because I have found that digital projects test my understanding of time and space, as though there are alternative governing physics – what I thought might take an hour, can sometimes take a day… or more.
  • Have both practical and reach goals for deadlines. If you get to a reach goal by that deadline, great! If not, it helps create continuity between one work session and the next, highlighting the next set of steps to be tackled.
  • Consciously resist the feeling of self-doubt that frustration can breed by reaching out to your networks – or finding and building networks of support will help. It iss great if they can help you work through problems with your project, but the support one can feel through commiseration, empathy and discussion is also helpful.
  • Know when to quit. Listen to yourself on this. There are time when I decide to work on a problem for 10 more minutes or check one last resource and the issue is resolved. Sometimes, I really need to break and go for a walk or work on a different aspect of the project. “Quitting” to come back at a later time or day is not quitting.

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