The Productive Musician

Musicians’ Productivity

Sarah Whitney gave her presentation on musicians’ productivity through Facebook. It was live video, good quality. At one point there was a glitch or difficulty that stopped the presentation. Aside from that one instance, it went smoothly and well.

Sarah Whitney gave her Musicians’ Productivity presentation on FaceBook

I got to the party a few minutes late. When I came in she was saying how you had to be patient learning new things. It made me think of “beginner’s mind” as described by zen teachers. It’s ideally a state of learning that is not hampered by ego. 

Musicians’ To Do Lists

She began talking about to do lists. Her first recommendation is that they not be too long. If the to do list always has items on it at the end of the day you feel like you are simply not getting enough done. You are a slacker. Instead, set yourself up for success. Choose three tasks. They can be important tasks that take time to get done. But you can do these in one day and feel good about your productivity that day. Use backward looking thought to determine what you will really like to get accomplished on that day. Three key things. 

Other items may take only five to ten minutes. These are in a different category. The three things need to be doable, even if not easy. Be specific about the task and know when it would be a finished task. These three things are your big pillars of getting things done. 

The Long List or Brain Dump

Sorting a long list. When Sarah started this subject I remembered David Allen’s list of items beginning with the brain dump. Then there were tasks that had deadlines. Some items went into the Someday Maybe category. Some could be rejected and dismissed. Some might be Delegated. Sarah got into out sourcing, without using that term, for day to day tasks that she did not want to do. Have someone else do them and pay for it. 

She said to put the long list into categories. What are easy tasks that take only five to ten minutes. What are harder tasks, like recording a session. What tasks require resolving emotional issues in relationships. These were her main categories.

Speaking of tasks that are quickly done, there is a rule from David Allen called the two minute rule. If a task only requires two minutes or less, do it immediately. If you add it to the To Do List, it will take longer later.

Procrastination, No Problem

Then there’s procrastination. I’ve been telling myself I have no problem with that, but that’s not true. My first problem is putting aside tasks on my list so I can indulge in something I would rather do. That happened yesterday when I stopped working to read a novel. More about that later. Maybe it’s not so bad to pursue something I feel strongly about. Hard to say.

First, she says, is there something you haven’t addressed? Something getting in the way. Is there a fear factor? Fear of rejection, for instance, in asking for assistance on a project. Her example was a colleague who wanted to start an ensemble. The first person she thought of to join the project was a big fish that she felt anxious about approaching. After counseling with Sarah she did send an email. And got a positive response. 

Second, do you need to learn something. Is the hesitation due to what you don’t know how to do? She gave an example, obtaining an LLC, that sent her to getting advice to help get past the block. 

The Accountability Partner

Third, can you have an accountability partner?  Someone you talk with once or twice a week to get a grip on what you are doing. She also included the out sourcing in this section.

Fourth, is the goal too big? Can you make smaller parts out of it. Especially, can you find a reasonable chunk to get started. As Brian Tracy says, By the yard, it’s hard. By the inch it’s a cinch. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (OK, yuck.)

Fifth, what if your goal is not really aligned with your vision? Are you working on your idea or someone else’s? This starts edging into the space of “Know thyself.” The self-actualization part of life can come only after extensive work on everything else, including, who am I. 

Procrastination is the Teacher

She says, “I love procrastination.” What she’s saying is, she learns about herself and her process by noticing when and where she is procrastinating. That’s a good attitude. 

Takeaways: Ask better questions. Analyze your process and see where you can improve it. 

Homework from Sarah: 1 Look back on today to what could I do to make the day successful. 2 Procrastinating on something? Find a small task that you can do to move forward. For me that is finding the new mixer, which I will need to set up my recording system. I put it somewhere, but….Where?

This is the second post featuring Sarah Whitney, who looks just as good, and is just as personable face to face as on video. The earlier post is here.

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