Productivity Tips to Support Your Creativity

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The weekend before last, I started coming down with a cold on Saturday, rested over the weekend, and somehow felt worse on Monday for the start of the work week. I wasn’t sick enough to justify cancelling things, so I had to come up with a way to expend the least amount of energy while also fulfilling my responsibilities (including writing my daily 8 measures for 100 More Days of Writing Music).

Certainly if you’re feeling really sick, take the day off, take a nap, do whatever you need to do (and don’t get this cold, it lasted for 10 days!) But, I know that’s not always an option, so here are some things that helped me get through the day in the most productive way possible:

  1. Self-Control app (for Mac, but there are similar ones for PC) to block social media from my computer (and I have no social media apps on my phone except Instagram). Seriously, this app has saved me from all of those times where I'd get the "twitch" (credit to Anthony Ongaro for that term), and would start mindlessly clicking and scrolling because my task was no longer comfortable. 
  2. Don’t keep email open - only open at very few specified times. There aren't going to be any emergencies arriving via email. 
  3. Only make a short to-do list (<5 items that must be done), in the exact order that I'll do them, which eliminates the indecision of deciding what to do next, or bobbing between things and never really starting anything (not that that sounds familiar...)
  4. Do as little work at the computer as possible (to avoid getting spaced out and/or easily distracted). This is easier for me when I'm practicing or composing at the piano, of course. 
  5. Buckets of water and tea to drink. Staying hydrated makes a huge difference in my mental clarity. 
  6. Smelling this Mental Clarity oil (so refreshing and invigorating). 
  7. Short breaks for meditation or lying down whenever I'm dragging. Staring out the window is okay.
  8. Repeat after me: "Done is better than perfect." 

I discovered that, even when my head felt like it was filled with applesauce, by eliminating more distractions I was able to free up enough space to allow the conduit of creativity to be open. On Monday my daily composing habit was extremely easy and poured right out of me, and the idea for this post came to me so quickly while I was in the shower that I had to rush to finish and write it all down!

Now, I’m not necessarily saying that there’s a direct correlation between these things, but if we set up the conditions for creativity to happen, it’s more likely to show up. After all, it’s not like we are totally in control of creating the thing. If we show up, it will. Or if it doesn’t today, it will tomorrow - just show up every day and be ready to receive.

 I love this quote because the man is spot on.

I love this quote because the man is spot on.

If you need some help sticking to new habits, or deciding which habits to take on to support your creativity, I have just the thing for you: a free habit tracker worksheet! 

Ironically (or maybe not ironically), I get more done when I’m not obsessing about being perfectly productive, and I am much less stressed out, too. Win / win / win.

In other news, despite the sickness, I have been working overtime the last two weeks, finishing up my MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) certification projects, which I finally completed today! So, if all goes well, I will soon be a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (woo hoo!) Now I have extra energy to put into my upcoming gigs (I have 3 in the next week), more composing, and of course, some relaxing! I'm wishing you the same. 

What do you have planned for your weekend?

Rebecca Hass

Pianist and composer