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Angela Myles Beeching | Beyond Talent Consulting
The Professional Musician's Roadmap
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Five Productivity Hacks

MONDAY BYTES — September 26, 2016

This is a follow up to last week’s procrastination episode on my email debacle. This week is all about antidotes to Avoidance and Procrastination (A&P).

Though I don’t have a magic pill to offer you instant productivity, here’s perhaps the next best thing: 5 productivity hacks to get you unstuck and moving ahead on track.

We’ve all avoided or procrastinated doing the “right” thing at some point. And it happens in all areas of our lives—from our artistic work, to handling the “business side” of our careers, to taking care of our health, personal finances, and relationships.

There’s always a chain of “legitimate” excuses preventing us from doing the work. And these keep us prisoners, victims of our own behavior.

Our Resistance is a clever enemy: we’re all very good at talking ourselves out of doing the work needed to make change.

So here are my favorite productivity hacks plus some bonus resources.

Try them on — and I’d love to hear what else has worked for you!

1. Identify your top priority project. Think what you’ve been avoiding and are most nervous about. The thing we delay doing is the project that challenges us the most—and that offers the most growth potential.

Once you know what is truly important, break it down into the next needed and manageable step. Don’t go for perfect; just get it going. It’s one day at a time. Go for the small wins.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

2. Bookend each day with mini-planning. Use the first 5 minutes and the last five minutes of your day to plan your work so you can work your plan. This is a small  investment pays dividends. Each evening schedule tomorrow’s time block for your priority project. Designate specific time for the most important thing each day in the morning, when you’re best able to focus. Plan your other work around this priority appointment with yourself. The best thing about doing this is the confidence that comes with being on track and the sense that you can handle the rest of the day ahead.

3. Schedule distraction-free time blocks: block off an hour (or 2 or 3 depending on the project and your schedule) for concentrated focused work on your ONE top priority project.

To help you stay on track within any designated time block, set yourself up to work distraction free. Put a sign on the door and alert colleagues or family members in advance you are not to be disturbed during these periods.

Important: turn your phone OFF and put it in another room. No instant messaging, texting, emailing, or extra-curricular surfing. If needed, disconnect your computer from the internet. It’s cyber detox: real work means getting unplugged.

Multi-tasking is a myth. You can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Studies show that after a distraction “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”

Worried about not being plugged in? Feeling nervous that things will implode if you don’t respond immediately?

Nothing will blow up. I promise. Anyone trying to reach you can do so after your time block is done. Don’t cheat yourself. Stay focused.

4. To keep yourself on track within a given time block use the Pomodoro techniqueBreak any big project down into the tasks that you can work through in 20 minute increments. If you like, use a kitchen timer.

Be intentional—decide what you will specifically focus on in each 20 minutes. That’s how I got myself to write the dreaded email. I find I can stand to do just about anything for 20 minutes.

5. Have an accountability partner. This might be a colleague, friend, mentor, or coach. Someone you alert about your intention to complete the task that day. Ask that person to check in on you afterwards to help hold you accountable. It’s SO great to be able to report, “I DID IT!”

With a colleague, you may want to trade checking in with each other on your projects—so that it’s equally beneficial to you both.

Try the Five Productivity Hacks—I’ll be very curious to hear how these work and what other tools you find helpful to get your best work done!

Question: what’s the ONE thing you could do this week that would help you most move ahead in your career?

As always, I look forward to hearing from you—reach me at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com

More help with time management and productivity:
The ONE thing: the book
One thing time blocking technique
The 7 Secrets of the Prolific
Fearless Living: Doing What You Are Afraid to Do

Want to create a custom-tailored plan to move ahead in your career?

Let’s talk abut what’s holding you back and how coaching could help you. Reach me at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

My Email Debacle

MONDAY BYTES — September 19, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had stretches when a particular item on your to-do list refuses to get done. It’s on the list day after day but not getting crossed off.

design

These are often the items we’re intimidated by or that otherwise make us uncomfortable. They set off our self-esteem or anxiety alarms.

A few months ago I had an item like this: welcome to my email debacle! It was a key email I needed to send—the first step to initiating a project.

At the time it didn’t register with me that I was procrastinating—I was just too busy with other things.

Or so I told myself.

And the email kept not getting sent or even drafted, week after week.

What’s worse, it had already taken me a number of weeks before this just to identify that the first step needed for the project was this key email!

Finally it dawned on me: I was becoming the Queen of Procrastination.

During this time, whenever I thought about moving ahead with this project I’d feel overwhelmed. I’d complete 11 other more urgent things on my list instead of doing the most important one. The one “domino effect” item that would have gotten the project going.

Being too busy is really convenient, right?

It let me off the hook because I could “legitimately” say I was too busy to do the one thing that would help me most with my larger project.

Let’s admit the truth: there’s never going to be enough time.

And we’re never going to be totally “ready” to do the ambitious, scary thing needed in order to move ahead.

The only way to get the truly important stuff done is to designate specific time for what matters most and then to actually do it.

How do we undermine ourselves?

Sometimes we work ourselves up into being overwhelmed and confused about what needs to be done.

Or we fool ourselves into thinking that everything is equally important and that if we forgo sleep we can get everything done.

But what happens is we end up taking care of the noisier, immediate things that clamor for our attention. We end up sacrificing our more challenging long-term projects by putting other people’s needs before our own.

All this self-sabotage is what Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, refers to as resistance.

Unsure about which is the most important thing to do?

The biggest clue for me was how I felt about NOT getting the email done. The whole time I was procrastinating I felt guilty, like a coward.

Why had I made such a big deal of it?

My anticipated fear was way out of proportion to any possible response to the email.

I’ve seen the same pattern in musicians I work with. We’re all human. Our fears become magnified. They amplify our resistance, keeping us “safe” in our comfort zones and free from doing the work needed to achieve our goals.

At some point I needed to force myself to send the email.

I did. And I’m relieved to report the project is moving ahead. I just can’t can’t stand to think how long it took: all that wasted time fretting and ruminating.

The silver lining: based on what’s worked for me and many others, I’ve identified 5 Productivity Hacks coming your way next week. A toolkit for overcoming task paralysis.

To start, identify your priority item that’s not getting done. Most likely it’s whatever you’re most afraid of. The things we delay doing are the projects that challenge us the most—and that offer the most growth potential.

This week’s question: what’s the ONE thing you could do this week that would help you the most to move ahead with a key career project?

As always, I love getting your feedback, comments, and questions—reach me at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com

Want a custom-tailored plan to move ahead in your career—along with tools and action steps?
Let’s talk abut what’s holding you back and how coaching could help you. Reach me at Angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

Inside Morton’s Head

MONDAY BYTES — September 12, 2016

Last week I got an email from Jeffrey James (arts consultant and friend) who connected me to Abby Burton, daughter of the iconic composer Morton Gould.

This was in response to my post about creative process angst. Abby sent a fantastic letter that her Dad wrote for his induction into the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In the letter, Gould writes “I submit my calling card in the form of an expurgated digest of a diary describing how I compose.”

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So, climb inside a composer’s head to get a sense of what his actual process was like.

His one page chronicle outlines days of no ideas, as well as the days he’s somewhat optimistic, or only mildly suicidal, and the mysterious days he’s got some “head sounds” going, or excited to have produced a whopping three notes. Spoiler alert: he does get the commission done and without spontaneous combustion.

It should give us all courage. The letter, as a PDF, is here:

limhofmgouldcommissionangst

And Abby was kind enough to also send it in typed text to avoid any extra deciphering of her Dad’s handwriting:

commission-angst-clear-text-gould

FYI: Morton Gould was an American composer, conductor, ASCAP President, and “musical citizen.” His diverse works reflect all aspects and people of this country, written for all musical venues.  A Kennedy Center Honoree, Pulitzer Prize for Music awardee and Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award are just a few of the many awards and recognitions he received.

(Thank you, Jeff and Abby!)

Questions for the week: what’re your creative process habits?

And what has worked for you in dealing with deadlines, pressure, procrastination, time management, and creativity?

What helps you stay on track?

What helps you find your way to the creative flow state?

As always, I love getting your comments and responses! Email me: angela@BeyondTalentConsulting.com

Curious about coaching with me? Details are HERE.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well