I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I have miniatures problem...
Thankfully, I know I'm not alone - and I know I share that same problem with many, many others who are also part of the miniatures related Hobby. I have quite a large collection of painted miniatures (well over a thousand) but I also have an even LARGER pile of unpainted miniatures!
These are often referred to as our 'piles of shame'. There are many reasons these piles come to exist, not the least being the need to get our hands on truly wonderful mini's that we can't wait to add to our collections, paint them up and then show off or admire (if only to ourselves). If you're into the Hobby for more than just gaming - not that there's anything wrong with that - then chances are that you have, on more than one occasion, bought mini's simply because you thought they were too good not to have as part of your collection.
For many of us, this desire to have 'all the shiny things' over-rides our common sense in realizing that we usually don't have the time to paint up our mini's as fast as we can buy them, often much to our partners consternation! In my case, this now actually applies to not only buying them, but sculpting them! I currently have about 15-20 of my own creations that I am yet to paint up - even though some of them were sculpted and have been in production for *gulp* at least four years (see below example of my Tzeggbots I'm currently working on - which has only taken fours years to start - oops)...
So how do you eat an elephant?
If you don't know; it's one mouthful at a time...
Procrastination is almost always the biggest genuine reason that our 'piles of shame' tend to grow quickly rather than shrink slowly. The term, 'time poor', whilst sometimes valid for many people, often really decodes to 'poorly organized' or 'poorly motivated'. Most of us don't like to admit it though, which is fair enough - we all normally want to present the best version of ourselves, even to ourselves!
We often find it simpler and easier to just go and watch tv, turn on a computer game or grab the Ipad than do something more constructive with our limited spare time. The problem is, at the end of the day (metaphorically) you haven't achieved anything. If you can look at painting your mini's (or whatever other creative outlet you may have: drawing, gardening etc) as something in which you can achieve a tangible result for your efforts, then it makes the motivation to do it far greater.
Once you start to develop a routine, or habit, of setting aside time each day (or week) to concentrate on painting, it becomes so much easier to just do it and start enjoying it. Then, the more you do it, the better you get at it and it becomes even more fulfilling and rewarding. The hard part is developing the routine in order for it to become a habit, but once you've overcome that initial hurdle, you're set. It's kind of like going to the gym, or regular exercise that way.
But the secret is start with modest goals and work your way up. If you're not painting at all, plan to do half an hour once a week, then build it up to an hour, once a week, then maybe two hours once a week. If you can manage it, and you're enjoying it, maybe you can increase it to twice a week or more, or just extend your painting sessions to more than two hours. When I was much younger (and with no Significant Other) I would have marathon painting sessions which could last 10-12 hours, but I must admit, that was a bit extreme...
The point is, start small and modestly and think about what you're trying to achieve, then formulate what you need to do to achieve it. For example; you may simply want to reduce your pile of painted mini's by a significant amount in a short space of time, so you'd get a bunch of figures that you could 'batch paint', using simple techniques and basic colour schemes and then spend more time on the hero figures you have, so they get more attention (by you AND anyone else looking at them afterwards). Or you may simply want to speed up your general painting without compromising too much on quality by painting your models to a basic standard overall and only spending time on key focal points of the figures, such as the faces or weapons or banners. By taking some short-cuts like this, you can really whittle down a pile of unpainted mini's quite quickly - and you can always come back to them and work on them some more at some point in the future if you want, but at least you've made a serious dent in your pile.
Taking the above example of the Tzeggbots that I've taken forever to get around to, these are a squad of mini's that have the potential to take quite a long time to paint due to the colour scheme and detail level of the mini's, but I've tried to break it down to one model at a time, section by section and then incorporate some short-cut painting methods in how I do them. By doing it this way, it has become less of a chore (not that painting Wereweevil Miniatures is EVER a chore of course...!) and far more enjoyable than the prospect of being overwhelmed by them initially.
(Here you can see below the front two are still incomplete and that I've broken them down into sections that I can work on...)
Part of my process of clearing my backlog of my sculpts to paint has been to identify larger groups of models, such as the Tzeggbots and do them first, then move on to the smaller groups and then the single models, thereby making the whole job quicker as I progress. You'll see the final finished result in the Shop section in my store soon, replacing the grey unpainted versions that I've had up for the last 12 months.
Ultimately though, it's worth remembering - we have Hobbies to keep us interested, occupied and fulfilled. That's their whole purpose. So the more you get into your Hobbies, the happier you tend to be and the more you have to show for the time you've invested. So turn the TV off, get stuck in, develop a habit of fostering your Hobby and then see the rewards. It's well worth it!