Finding My Flow

As of late, I’ve been pondering the areas in my music endeavors where I struggle with the most these days. Earlier this year, after doing some reflecting, I found out what they are: 1) lack of good/great ideas, 2) boredom, and 3) distractions.

The first one is something that has always plagued me. Recently, I found out how to deal with it and that is by simply getting into a state of deep concentration and pushing through. However, that is sometimes hindered by the 3rd one, which is distractions. I live in an apartment complex with a billion other people, so there’s noise and distractions all around (which is why I’m going to build myself a little studio – so that way I can have place to focus on making music and not get distracted). The 3rd one is also something I’ve also always struggled with, as I’m someone who gets bored really easily and if something is no longer exciting or challenging (I’m drawn to novelty so I’m always on the lookout for something new and fresh), I tend to want to move on to the next thing (I would have to say that the 1st and 2nd ones go hand-in-hand).

I recently decided to implement a new morning routine, where I would start working on whatever big/important task needs to be prioritized for the day first thing in the morning, in a place free of distractions (this post was made in the morning the day I wrote it. It was originally an entry for my daily dairy and was meant to be self-reflective). I first tried it out on Sunday, April 23, 2017 and it worked wonders. I was working on this remix of Hi I’m Ghost’s “All In My Head” and I came up with a great idea for the vocals and the intro. The next day, however, did not go so smoothly. I found out that I no longer had that spark that I had in the beginning, when I was all excited about this remix and was just pumping out ideas from all around me. I struggled to get back into that mood, and to make things worse, this remix was due 4 days after I went back to work on it. After some long pondering, I realized that I might have just blown this opportunity by not working on it sooner, when it was all fresh and exciting (and when it wasn’t so close to the deadline).

When I first started working on the remix, I also had two other projects to work on. One of them was an art project (the Hi I’m Ghost art contest) and the second one was helping out my little sister with a school project. I would have to say that the most detrimental one was the second project (as opposed to the 1st project, which goes together with the remix). This project was due much sooner and when I started the remix, this was the roadblock I stumbled upon. Lets also not forget that it had nothing to do with this remix. I was forced to take an extended, two week break from working on that remix and that, right there, I feel was the big mistake. It was a giant mistake because it disrupted my flow.

When you disrupt flow (which is when deep focus is needed, especially now a days, to make high quality work) you risk making lower quality work and struggling to finish. So I think my biggest mistake in all of this was over-committing myself and not setting my priorities straight. But here’s the thing: with the 2nd project, I had no other choice but to do it because otherwise, my sister would’ve gotten a failing grade (and its almost the end of the school year, so she can’t afford to do that). If only that didn’t get in the way, I would’ve had completed the remix on time.

My other big mistake was not prioritizing doing the remix first thing in the morning. But then again, I had just recently learned about the power of morning routines and the power of prioritizing big tasks first thing in the morning and doing them in a place free of distractions, so it was a little too late. This was a tough pill to swallow, but at least I completed the 1st project (which again, goes hand in hand with this project, so its no big deal) and I learned some valuable lessons along the way. The other good news is that by then, I felt ready to go back to work on a couple of other projects that have long been in the pipeline and have yet to still be completed (which I will be back to working on soon). In addition, the lessons learned from all this have really motivated me to work on more projects, and focus on completing them while things are still fresh.

I started reading this book by Cal Newport called “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” in late April, shortly after I decided to shelf the remix project for another day. The book talks about the importance of deep concentration in order to get more stuff done, learn skills much quicker, produce at an elite level, and how all the great writers, scientists, artists, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, etc. embraced it. It also discusses how rare and difficult it is to be able to achieve that in today’s world that’s full of distractions, and how its becoming increasingly valuable due to its scarcity. Additionally, it also provides practical solutions to embracing this philosophy.

I finished reading the book in early May (it took me a total of 2.5 weeks), and it has been a tremendous help. I’ve already implemented the strategies in that book and I’ve seen great results so far, although I’m still a work-in-progress. I’ve also found that now feel more happier, more satisfied, and much more fulfilled because it finally feels like I’m being more productive with my time. I’m really confident that it will help me get me to where I want to be. I really can’t wait to see where I’ll be a month from now, 6 months from now, a year from now, etc. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s struggling with workflow or wants to finish a lot of work and perform at an elite level, as well as to anyone who needs or wants to learn a new skill at a fast rate. This is a great investment to make for your music career (or any other career, for that matter), no matter what your goals are.

What areas in your music ambitions are you struggling with? Is there anything you’re doing to overcome these issues? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below. I’m going to be talking about my new daily routine in a new post soon, so be on the lookout for that! Take care, everyone!

 


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