As time goes on, I find it more and more difficult to devote time to some endeavors that are important to me. At work, there are always a thousand threads going at once. And at home, it’s hard for me to carve out time to work on music. I know I’m not alone in these pursuits. Whenever I find myself on a roll, whether it’s me coding in an editor towards a goal I have or following my creative path, I loathe being interrupted. Usually this happens because of something completely preventable, but in the moment I find that I lose all steam. To wit, there is nothing quite like a software upgrade or bad cable to dampen my mood. When I have an idea for a new melody or rhythm, the last thing on my mind is troubleshooting a patch bay or upgrading software.
Therefore, I spend a lot of my time planning and preparing for those ebullient moments when creativity strikes or when I find the time to concentrate on solving problems. In the studio, everything is connected together already, and most of the signal processing routes I need are already pre-configured. At work, I spent time gathering the reference materials, test data, and scripts I will need to execute fast and without interruption.
Inevitably, interruptions happen – software goes bad, I make a mistake, or something comes up that I just haven’t thought of before. The best technique I know to minimize the impact of these externalities is to defer acting upon them until it is truly necessary. If I find a problem with my recording template, for example, chances are I don’t need to remedy it immediately. Instead, I keep a log of tasks that need to be done. If I can work around the problem temporarily and defer solving the problem to another time, that keeps me moving forward and not distracted on the problem. And of course the best time to come back to small tasks like that are those times in which I’m either not creative or just not in the zone.
It’s possible, though, to spend all one’s time making, tracking, and dealing with lists rather than getting anything done. I’ve read before that the most effective people never complete their own “to-do” lists. Instead, they know how to get the most important things done and how to defer lower priority tasks.
The fact that I’m even writing about this evinces that I’m a list-maker and that I like organizing thoughts and tasks. I’m prone to wanting to complete a list totally, and it’s nice to be able to catch myself and know that the list isn’t what is important. Get the important tasks done and defer the rest.
I find that if I spend my efforts clearing the road, I can make a lot of progress whenever lightning strikes. Since those times are extremely scant and valuable, that time spent preparing makes all the difference.Posted: December 22nd, 2011 | No Comments »