This week’s lesson in Smart Productivity for Musicians is about how to overcome stress, procrastination and chronic “lack of time” – while at the same time enabling your brain to focus on what it does best: being creative.
I wanted to share some thoughts on the topic here on the blog too.
During millions of years of evolution our brain has developed into a brilliant tool for being creative. It’s great at making rapid decisions, adapting to new situations, coming up with clever solutions to problems and combining ideas creatively. Those are skills that our survival as species has depended on.
The fast paced society today requires us to manage and remember a lot of tasks. We now live a very different life to our ancestors, but our brain is still the same. It’s never had to become very good at remembering and keeping track of lots of pending tasks.
It is a very new requirement in the scale of human history and our brain simply isn’t a natural talent at that! We adapt, but it is hard work.
This is a major cause of friction in our lives. It causes stress, procrastination and chronic “lack of time”.
This can be especially challenging for someone looking to make progress in the creative field of work. Anyone in charge of organizing their own work – that includes us music makers. There is so much to do and to remember. The abundant availability of information isn’t always helping either – quite the contrary.
So what’s the solution? We need to offload the stuff that our brain is not so good at into a separate task management system – an external brain if you will.
Having a good planning system in place reduces stress and also enables your brain to focus more on what it does best: being creative. It will also give you a clear overview of all your commitments. You can make better informed decisions on what is actually important. You’ll know what are the things you should be working on right now that will give you the biggest leverage and move you forward.
You will still have the same 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. But because you know you are focusing on the right things and making progress with your goals, and because you won’t have to worry about forgetting something anymore… The stressful feeling of “lack of time” begins to fade.
Here are a few tips for creating and keeping up with your task management system:
- Keep it simple.
- Make it flexible.
- Adjust your system as you go .
- Don’t plan to do too much in too little time. It won’t work.
- Leave plenty of unplanned time. We are not machines (yet).
- Review your system regularly in order to keep up with it.
There are many different established task management methods around these days. I’ve tried a few different ones over the years. I’ve eventually ended up combining elements from here and there to create a pretty streamlined system that works great for me. It really comes down to thinking about what works best for your personality and your situation.
I am sharing the inner workings my personal task management system (and much more on the topic) in detail in this week’s lesson of Smart Productivity for Musicians. There’s a free 10 day trial so you can read all of it without any obligations – no strings attached. Go have a look.
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
– David Allen