A productivity-focused desk

Photo By STIL.

I’m hesitant to talk about productivity. It seems as though the world’s greatest artists and musicians aren’t concerned with it, because art apparently simply “happens”. It’s inspiration. Talent. Waking up at 3 a.m. in a frenzy because you’ve just had a great songwriting idea. Basically magic, if we put it this way. Setting a schedule and following it kind of takes the “spur of the moment” out of art.

As a musician and songwriter though, I know that it’s essential to be perfectly organised and to maximise your productivity as much as possible. It’s hard being a full-time musician slash full-time whatever day job you have. Musicians take multi-tasking to a new level, but productivity is important for everyone, even though perhaps it’s not part of the romantic notion of “making art”.

Truth is, no one does it all easily. In fact, no one probably does it all. If we do do it all, we’re definitely struggling to do it all well.

I used to think that I could multitask as easily as drinking a glass of water. However, I was also really stressed and did nothing to my full potential. I did well in everything, but not exceptionally well.

For this reason, I’m always looking for productivity hacks and tips to make my life a little tiny bit easier. However, I’m also learning to relax and take things a little bit slower and with less anxiety. We tend to think procrastination is bad. There’s this unsaid belief that we are supposed to be productive every single moment of every single day. In the rare case I take a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, even if I really need it, I feel really guilty and unproductive. Apparently though, I’m not alone in feeling this. This seems to be a cultural problem and pretty much everyone suffers from it. We need to be busy. In fact, we are too busy. 

For most people, strict deadlines help in getting things done. Some people actually get everything done ahead of time, and I admire them greatly as this definitely doesn’t define me.

But what if the deadlines don’t even exist in the first place? What if you’re trying to accomplish a personal goal, such as writing a novel, learning a new language or recording an album? If you don’t have a recording contract, no one is going to get on your case and push you to finish an album. The same applies writing a novel or learning a new language. You can obviously give yourself a deadline, but the fact that you’ve created it means you can push it back and blame it on something or someone else.

Many people think that being busy and happiness are connected, and I did too. Truth is, I was busy with the wrong things. My day job took up most of the time and music occupied very small time slots such as the evenings or weekends. I thought that by being busy all the time and multitasking continuously, I was proving how valuable I was. I also felt as though I was building a foundation for being happy in the future. A hypothetical future where I could finally relax, slow down and enjoy the fruits of my hard work. Then I realised that I’d pretty much left the music behind.

Bottom line, I got pretty sick of multitasking. Now I work every day to be productive while staying focused on my main goal, which is making music. I don’t want to multitask, so I quit my day job. It’s scary, but I guess it’s the only way to really find out whether I’m good enough to be a full time musician or not. I want to be productive and accomplish my goals, but I don’t want to stress myself to death while doing it. Finding a good balance between being productive and slowing down is really important for me and I think everyone should have and pursue goals. It’s just important to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Do you feel stressed and not productive enough? Do you have any productivity hacks to share? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. The waking up at three a.m. thing actually does happen. Songs do end up written quickly and in random moments. I don’t really believe this is really “spur of the moment” though; I think it happens because when you practice writing every day, your brain elaborates what you’ve done and presents you with it at random times during the day. But you still have to input to get some output!

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