Meet my project board. This is a board on my studio wall which has post-its on it for every song that I finished writing and that needs recording. This way my next releases seem much more in reach than they would if they were just a stack of paper or a bunch of ideas somewhere in my head. These post-its visualize my work – or at least a part of it. They remind me of what I am up to and to focus. Because sometimes you just don’t know what to do next. Organizing your thoughts is very helpful for creative people despite the cliché of art arising from chaos. But how does it work?
Your plan: easy, single steps towards your goal
OK, so you have a plan. You know what you want to achieve and how. But somehow you just can’t get yourself to start working. Here is the solution: After nailing your plan to your door(s) or wall(s) break down the first step into even smaller sections and write those down on little post-its. Those are your tasks. Get a board or pinboard, hang it on the wall and add all your tasks to it. That is your project. Right into your face.
Your project: in your face
Not for the world to see – just for yourself. You need to see it every day. Why? Because this world is full of distractions and so is your mind. Many people think they can not accomplish a certain thing because they don’t have enough time. Here’s the secret: We all have almost precisely 24 hours at our disposal every day. Each and every one of us has the same amount of time every day. The problem is not the availability of time but what you make of it. Many people, unfortunately, decide to spend their time passively consuming media (TV). Others deem it important to gossip. And countless hours are spent watching YouTube videos.
And here’s the problem: While all of that might be interesting (and there’s certainly some awesome stuff on YouTube), it still takes time out of your day. At one point you will have to decide what is more important to you: Your project or all the other stuff. And since the internet and mobile devices are more or less omnipresent these days, the internet often wins just by being there when you try to make that decision.
Distraction from distractions: Focus
But when you plaster your surroundings with your own project, every time you look up your eyes have a higher chance of not being distracted but to be reminded of what you really want. Your priority. Not only that: By creating those little tasks, you already have bite-sized pieces of work you can do every day that don’t take too much time and thus look like a good alternative to watching yet another science episode on YouTube.
Yes, you can keep it all in your head. Yes, you could create those tasks as tickets in a wonderful computer-based tracking system like trello.com (a masterpiece which I highly recommend). But nothing beats these real-world post-its or notes and pinboards. The pinboard is there, big, in your face all the time. There is no way to turn it off, there is no need to turn it on to change the order of tasks or add some or remove one.
Keep your head free: be awesome
And everything you have on the board you no longer need to think about in your head. That means you have more capacity to actually do work.
For me, right now the board just has list of song titles. Those are the songs that I more or less finished writing. I can and will practice those, then I will make a pre-production. Without the board I keep forgetting individual songs. Not the lyrics, not the notes – the whole songs. I forget that they exist. I forget that instead of being bored or cleaning the kitchen or watching a movie I could practice this particular song that I could finalize and produce it. That I could get closer to my goal.
Don’t forget things. Write them down. Organize them. Organize your thoughts. Play with them. Keep your head free for actual work. Keep your eyes and your life focused on your tasks. Get more of the things done you want to get done. Reach your goals. Be happier.