Tuesday, 3 February 2015

First Post — Schedules Are Fun!

It's about time I finally got around to writing this damn blog. And for the first post, I think I'd like to tackle the important topic of self-motivation and scheduling. I hope this is helpful to anyone who also struggles with this, but this post happens to be self-serving in a way. I find that writing on the subject always gives me the boost I need to adhere to my own schedule. By the way, I'll be the first to say I'm no expert on the topic, but I can honestly say I've lived and experienced both ends of the reality and here is what I've learned...

  1. Schedules are important. Very, VERY important. Even if you are failing to use your schedule, making it will at least give you perspective on how much time you really have (which is not very much at all!). 
  2. Drafting a schedule and following it will make you happier. If you are the type of person who gets immense satisfaction and a surge of dopamine from being productive, a detailed hourly breakdown of your day will bring you joy. If you are not this type of person (I'm not going to say you're lying to yourself, but you probably are), then bully for you and enjoy the Netflix account. [I feel strongly that mental health and productivity are closely related. If I think back to my lowest yielding months in terms of compositional output, they are have been my most unhappy times. Although this is obviously not true for everyone, I think in general that the idea of the depressed artist yielding their greatest work is a fallacy. I understand that being happy 100% of the time is impossible, but perhaps many of these artists achieved their greatest work as a means to combat depression, not to perpetuate existing in its state. Even if a piece I am writing has a solemn tone, my most stimulating creative outbursts seem to happen when I am well rested, and happy.] 
  3. Schedule leisure and you will enjoy it more. When you set out to make your schedule, don't make an impossible commitment of endless work days that you cannot fulfill. It turns out even honey bees respect this rule! http://www.wpr.org/bees-might-not-be-busy-we-think-they-are
  4. It will increase your creative output, and you have nothing to lose by trying. And I mean really trying. In fact, I'm willing to bet that anyone who has ever uttered the words "schedules don't really work for me" has never created and followed one rigorously for any longer than two days. I say this because I was this person. I used to think I didn't need a strict schedule; I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do at any given time. "A schedule will stunt my creativity." Wow, was I ever wrong. What inevitably happens for someone who uses their creative faculties and doesn't schedule time to do it is that this person waits for inspiration in order to work. If you are anything like me, and I bet you are if you're reading this blog, your moments of inspiration won't arrive nearly as often unless you routinely force yourself into the chair each day and work—inspired or not. If you try this method for one full week, and find that you are less productive than you were before, please write a blog and tell us what your secret is. But really, I implore you to take this challenge if you haven't before. 
  5. Find out when you work best.  I'm more creative and productive in the mornings, so I've devised a schedule that prioritizes those precious few morning hours for creative work. I feel this kind of work comes more easily in the morning because you still have an entire day to complete things, and since you're not yet bogged down with other diversions. This sensation is far more conducive to a creative process. When I work in the evenings, I can sit at the piano with my manuscript for hours on end and get nothing done. My mind is too full of diversions to be truly focused. If you are the type of person to say "I work best under pressure," I doubt you'll still be convinced of that after one week of structured time. 
  6. Don't Give up. Scheduling is a learned skill. Before I found a system that worked (such as it does), I failed many times in sticking to a schedule, and continue to fail to this day. For example, I am using my morning block of composition time to write this blog. But, even though I've found my groove, I've noticed two things that cause it to break down: 1) I push my schedule too far. 2) I don't break up my tasks into small enough chunks. Fortunately, both these problems are easily fixed. Your problems will surely differ, and I'm sure it will take some trial and error to identify those particular roadblocks. But don't give up!
Well it looks like I should be breaking for lunch soon. I really need to respect point #3, so I will conclude this first entry. I assume that many of the points I listed are no-brainers for a lot of people, but hopefully reading this post has reinforced some things you already knew, and has inspired you to stay on schedule. :)

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