Wednesday, June 20, 2012

i'm only fooling myself

what do you think is the greatest skill that you could learn or master? would it be aeronautical engineering? nuclear physics? or maybe mastering the subtle art of poetry? or what about the machiavellian notions of politics and the ability to manipulate and control others? i think there's an even greater skill that trumps all others. possibly the greatest skill that a person could ever learn is self-control.

countless bible verse, proverbs and ancient wisdoms tell of the value of self control, or taming the tongue and even the value of patience. my greatest obstacle is myself.  ever since i was a little kid i've never had trouble learning how to do a job or even getting it done. what i have trouble doing is just getting started. some people blame it on ADD. i was diagnosed as a kid, but so were millions of other kids. who knows if i even had it or if i was just a rowdy kid. whether i have ADD or not, it doesn't really change anything.

as a kid i would have a study time period available to do homework but i would just sit there drawing or doing something stupid and procrastinating. a teacher or a friend would coax me to just start working and then, voila, i'd get working and would feel great and would be done before i knew what was going on. that STILL HAPPENS. i'll have work i need to do and i'll find myself sitting on my couch watching tv and playing on my laptop for hours just procrastinating, looking at canv.as or browsing ebay, or looking at rifle scopes...i could go on and on...let's face it. the entire internet is one giant time suck. anyway, but once i get started i'll work tirelessly for hours and feel great about it.

while this is a constant struggle, over the years i've figured out a few tricks to get myself working. i've actually figured out ways to trick myself into starting working without it feeling like work.

1. just look/watch/listen - if i have studio work that needs editing or mixing or whatever and i'm procrastinating, i just tell myself to go listen to it. listening is easy. it's not work. i'm just hitting play and enjoying it. but here's the thing - if i can just convince myself to go into the studio and start listening, all of the sudden my brain will kick in and i'll start wanting to tweak this and change that. then before you know it, i'm working and i love it. and you know what, it ALWAYS works. if i can just convince myself to start listening, i'll get psyched and will WANT to start working.

2. SLOW DOWN - another thing my brain tells the rest of myself when i'm procrastinating is that if i start working, i can just take it nice and slow. and when i do go turn on my computer and start working, sometimes i do go very slow. maybe i've got netflix streaming a tv show while i take my time working. maybe i don't get a lot of progress. but the point is, a little work is better than no work. and i'd say about 85% of the time i get psyched and start working like crazy.

3. Set yourself up to win - work and play are like binging and purging for me. when i work, i work like crazy where it completely consumes me till i burn out. then when i do burn out, i'll be so exhausted i won't want to do a THANG. instead, lately i've been working on setting achievable goals and planning a little extra time to accomplish tasks so that i'm not tearing my hair out from work and stress. instead of working in the studio for morning till late at late, maybe allow myself the freedom to turn off the computer around 7 or 8 and relax a bit.

4. and lastly, MAKE A LIST - a very rich man once told me that the key to success is this: when you wake up in the morning, make a list of everything you need to do, then spend the rest of the day checking things off that list. every week on monday morning i make a To Do list for the week. if there's  a specific day that i know i need to work but just don't feel like it, if i start making a list of everything that needs to be done, it gets my brain working and in the mood to start checking things off that list. ok i know what you're thinking. a weekly list isn't the same as a daily list like the nice rich man told me about. but LAY OFF ME!! i tweak the list daily so i basically am making a list daily. we're arguing semantics. actually, right now i'm arguing with a fictional reader, or better yet, arguing with myself....but i digress....

that's all i got. i guess i'm writing this for anybody who has trouble motivating themselves. this isn't about motivation when you're at work with your boss breathing down your neck or you're with a client.  that's easy. anybody can do that. this is about motivating yourself when you're alone and there's no one there to motivate/shame/bully you into working. i'm lucky enough that i get to play/write/record music for a living. a large percentage of my work is done without anybody supervising and it's up to me to start working. there's an old proverb about an older indian telling a young boy that inside every person is a good dog and a bad dog fighting. the boy asked which dog will win the fight. the indian responds "whichever dog you feed more". inside of each of us is an evenly matched fight. actually, you could almost arguing the fight is stacked against you. so figuring out ways to trick yourself into taking the road less travelled is like giving an edge to the good side when it's a close match.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I struggle with it too. My mind races and alot of time I just end up spinning my wheels. I am always looking for distractions to occupy my mind, and doing something else is always a better idea than what I NEED to do.

Sometimes letting the work pile up makes it easier for me to buckle down, but I know that's not the right thing to do either. Maybe we should start a support group.........

If I Speak said...

Great post, Nick! This is totally how my brain is wired too. The mind of a creative.

About Me

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos; that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?" --Hi Fidelity


Hey guys, my name is Nick Baumhardt. I help write and record music. I also play guitar for Thousand Foot Krutch and FM Static.

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