Creative procrastination

When it comes to productivity, there is nothing the mind loves more than putting things off. Especially if it’s creatively important. Because of this you may need to trick your mind into getting started.

There are a few ways to go about this and I’ve probably mentioned a couple of approaches in one of my past blogs. For a quick recap though here are a couple ways to get yourself started.

Just start – Don’t prepare to start. Just jump in and don’t ask permission or look for advice. Just act like you’ve already got things under control. You’ll be surprised how powerful this can be on your creativity and productivity.

15 minutes a day – it’s exactly as it sounds. It’s a commitment over a certain period of time, typically 30 days, where you commit to doing a task for 15 minutes a day without missing a day. You can go more than 15 minutes each day, but that doesn’t get you off the hook for tomorrow’s 15 minute commitment.

An alternate approach is one I just read from one of my favorite personal growth bloggers Steve Pavlina. He suggests you commit to doing a larger project in 15 minute chunks. You simply commit to get busy for 15 undistracted minutes. If after 15 minutes you want to stop you are free to, or you can immediately re-commit to another 15 minutes or after a short break.  I think this is a fantastic approach.

Keep a record – Another Steve Pavlina approach is to keep a log of everything you do for a full day. Anytime you change a task you write it down. So if you are working and then you get a text and you respond, write it down and write the time of day next to it. If you use the bathroom, write it down. Essentially what this does is makes you much more focused and aware of how you are spending your time from moment to moment and you can later determine where all your time is going. This tip is huge!

A new Approach

Here is another approach I’ve just come up with that sounds like it’ll work wonders for me and hopefully will for you as well. One of my biggest roadblocks is the preparation before actually getting started with a task. For example, when making music you need to make sure you have all the correct equipment , sound card, midi controller etc set up as well as access to your sound library, presets and templates. All of that can really be unmotivating when all you want to do is create. Typically you’ve lost your motivation half way into setting up. Unless your setup is dead simple, you typically will avoid setting up to create and thus you avoid creating because you have to set up. It’s a lose lose situation.

Here is a very simple solution:

Devote 15 minute chunks of time just setting up for making music. If 15 minutes is all you can handle, cool, but you’ll probably find that after the first 15 minutes and you’ll have less resistance to the next 15 minutes. When you are finally set up, don’t attempt to start creating. Take the rest of the day off and then commit to 15 minute chunks of musical work first thing the next morning if at all possible. This takes away all the distractions and procrastination tactics you typically encounter and gives you a direct path to starting work immediately. Also do your best to shut off any programs or social media that will distract you and clear your workspace from anything distracting as well. The only thing that should be grabbing your attention is your project. Also if the setup is complex, you may want to take some notes to make it easier the next time you need to set up for a project. For me, I use alot of my equipment for multiple purposes meaning I do alot of setting up, tearing down and reconfiguring. If you have to tear down after a project, allow yourself to hold off til the next day. You may find you have some last minute ideas spark up and you want your workstation ready to go.

By separating the tasks of preparing to create and creating, you are giving yourself a huge advantage. First off, it’s much easier preparing to create get started without fear of failure. You are not going to be judged for how you set up your equipment, so you’ll have much less resistance getting yourself started.

The next day when you actually DO create, the mundane tasks will already be completed leaving you a direct path to take what is in your head and turn it into something physical without distractions or roadblocks.  Separating the tasks takes away your ability to use either one as an excuse for not completing the other.

Give it a try if you find it hard to get started on a creative project.  Some of these tips helped this blog get written. I hope it helps you as well!

Happy Music Making,

Jason

 

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