I really like the editing process, how it's possible to bring a vision you've had to life, by timing things just right, etc. It's a great art.

Unfortunately I am super un-productive at it. This has been a pattern for me for a long time. Editing always takes the longest time and it a huge dread for me. I have several projects that I failed to complete once they got into the editing stage.

Often I am quite excited at first, piecing together one sequence that's viewable pretty fast.

From there it's downhill. I lose all kinds of motivation, excitement, or passion, and the process is tiring me out. Trimming the 150th cut, fixing the 96th issue, finding just the right 3 seconds from a 4 minute clip... It just becomes sooo dreadful and overwhelming. Even if I made it through putting potentially usable clips, which I pre-trimmed, in a somewhat useful order, it becomes tiring to go through the footage again, and yet again find just the right frame in the 200 frame clip... phew. Another thing that always frustrates me is when my material just isn't any good. I am missing important shots or angles or whatever, or the existing ones have giant mistakes in them, which makes the clip hard or impossible to use.

Overall my output is pretty good after the first session (after I piece together the first usable bit) but for the rest of the project things just take forever and drag out endlessly. As I said, I have some projects that are still not completely edited.

I mean generally this sounds like any project you could do (not just video related) : At first the motivation is high, but then it steadily declines and things become a dread. Perseverance makes or brakes success. For me personally though, editing is extremely affected by this problem.

Has anyone had this issue, too, and found good ways to overcome it? Are there any techniques I could use that are rewarding, or at least help me stay productive? Any guidelines or "recipes" I could follow that give me a different perspective? Has anyone ever successfully applied Scrum to editing?

graph illustrating my problem

  • I guess I just found a very similar question here video.stackexchange.com/questions/6910/… Will leave this one open for a little longer to see if there are different ideas. Apr 12, 2015 at 22:25
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    Whatever you do, stay away from stack exchange when you're supposed to be working. That site just eats up time ;)
    – stib
    Apr 13, 2015 at 1:45
  • Unfortunately you are right ^^ especially that friggin distracting hot topics section... I meant to have Ad block filter that out Apr 13, 2015 at 1:58
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    Interesting that you mention scrum. Even large productions tend to have not very many editors; probably not large enough for agile development, at least. At the same time, having an assistant editor to do all of the assembly, metadata entry, sound sync, and rough edit is how I'd answer your question. Or, maybe you should be the assist, and let someone else do the finishing, if that's where you're most productive. IMHO, the reason for this typical labor division is burnout; both jobs are essentially the same thing in different stages; One's course grit, the other's fine. Mar 15, 2020 at 1:58

4 Answers 4


Do you drink coffee? That's my solution.

More seriously though - For me, it helps to jump from project to project, setting individual goals each time I move to a different project, e.g. for project 'x', finish creating sub-clips from raw footage before I stop editing. It also helps to alternate between tasks that are boring and tasks that are more exciting.

In reality, you often don't have the luxury of moving away from a project or boring tasks. That's when you have to just power through it. In the end, if you're proud of what you have done, it's always worth it.

It can be extremely frustrating to work with bad material or to have to work in projects with missing shots. Again, with these situations, there is no secret sauce. You edit what you can, and do your best to prevent the situation next time.

I hope this helps.



This is an old topic, but I'll add anyway. Focus and distraction are difficult for me. To stay motivated and to keep from burning out, try the The Pomodoro Technique The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

I'll edit for twenty five minutes, then take a five minute break to stretch, or whatever. Then, repeat the process again and again. This keeps me disciplined, productive yet offers a reward at the end of each session. It can help anyone get through a time consuming project. Regular breaks AWAY from the editing station will allow you to recharge yet the timer keeps you disciplined. Try it. The Pomodoro technique


I asked this question 4 years ago, here's what I've learned since then (in no specific order):

  • Break it down into sub-sequences, and finish one short sub-sequence at a time
  • Get into a mindset of "It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough". This helps me, especially when I'm paralyzed from overwhelm. Doing something can be better than doing nothing in such case, and usually the result it still very good.
  • Make a list with extremely specific tasks (e.g. "finish the project" is too unspecific, you need to say "edit the recap sequence"). Having very specific tasks helps to have clearly defined next action, followed by the rewarding dopamine kick of "yes, I completed it!"
  • Motivation: Why do it, and why avoid failing at it? What's your goal beyond finishing this project? You've got hell to run from, and heaven to run for. Become clear on your reasons and desired outcomes. Be clear on the negative consequences for not completing it. But motivation alone is not enough, you also need:
  • Inspiration: This goes beyond "time away from the editing station". You gotta recharge your battery. Do something that reminds you of your motivation (If money is your motivation, go to a store to look at all the stuff you'll buy. Or socialize with friends. Or spend time with a woman. Or go to the movies) Do something that will take your mind off the project and recharge your battery, regularly.
  • Passion = Motivation + Inspiration. At the end of the day you've gotta love it, you've gotta be excited about what you do and why you're doing it.
  • Streamline your work by eliminating (recurring) tasks. It has really helped me to become more productive by finding ways to eliminate tasks. Moving away from tapes and to SD cards has obviously helped tremendously. Or another example: I had to re-encode screen capture footage first, before I could import it into my project. Also I had audio recorded on a separate device, so I had to pull it off the device, import it, sync it. Now I figured out how to immediately produce a video file from my screen capture, that's importable and includes the sound. No more re-encoding, no more syncing first, instead I can get right to editing, without any dreadful tasks.
  • Write scripts! This obviously is too late if you're in the middle of a difficult project right now, but I used to get a lot of "ad lib" footage of people trying to get a point across. 3 takes of rambling makes it very hard to produce something coherent. Writing a script in advance and having your presenter stick to it as much as possible makes deciding on the right take a LOT easier.
  • Find out what time of the day you're most productive, and protect that time. I've been very bad at that lately, because my schedule has been off. But if I get up at 6 am and start working for 2 or 3 hours before even having breakfast, I get SO MUCH done (if the tasks are clearly defined). The two hours after breakfast from 10 to 12 are still quite productive. But after that it's all downhill. So any day I'm sleeping in, I'm not getting as much done, as I could, therefore delaying the completion of my project.

To understand what is happening to You in full. I'd suggest getting to know Yerkes-Dodson law which was established in psychology.

The Wikipedia might be helpfull in that manner: Yerkes-Dodson law

It just depends on the goals that You have while editing the project. You stated that there is lots of repetetive tasks that have to be made while video editing.

Try optimizing the process. Set up Your own dedicated set of hotkeys. In my experience that brings more pleasure at the basic level.

  • Yerkes-Dodson law... that's gold!! Thanks man!! Mar 17, 2019 at 23:29

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