Limiting Options Is A Key To Productivity

One of the benefits of living in the 21st century is that we have more options in every aspect of our lives than ever.

Consider music for a moment.  In Beethoven’s day, If you wanted to hear Bach’s St. Matthews Passion, you had one of two choices.  You could either go to where a choir was performing the work, or acquire sheet music for the piece and organize your own choir to perform it.  ”Hearing” a piece performed for anyone living outside of a city meant that you could have been traveling for days or weeks to get somewhere where it was being performed.  Your “favorite” orchestral works may be something that you only heard 3-4 times in your lifetime.

If you have an internet connection, you can listen to any one of a hundred versions of the work instantly.  You can listen to it anywhere at anytime – even while driving. That’s an amazing thing.

.

But too much of anything is a bad thing.

.

When faced with too many options people generally shut down.  If you’ve ever watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, one of the first things Gordon Ramsay does is cut down the menu.  This not only focus the diners on a few select dishes  but also ensures  that the kitchen doesn’t get overwhelmed in preparing dishes.  When a kitchen can focus on a one page menu rather than a ten page menu – their chances of getting the dishes sent out the way they’re supposed to be climb dramatically.

Relating this to practicing – it’s easy to fall into this harmless looking trap.  You decide to sit down to practice and the first thing you think is, “Ok time to practice! I should practice scales, and comping – I have to make sure I work on improv – oh and reading – wow I really need to work on reading, and…”

…and…and…and soon it’s an hour later and nothing is done.

I’ve already posted about the importance of defining practice sessions and maintaining a practice log here, and about developing practicing as a habit rather than an event here, but I think it’s important to note that in whatever you do

.

the end result of too many options isn’t freedom

it’s paralysis

.

Have you every woken up with a goal for the day and not gotten it done because too many other things got in the way?  ”I wanted to go to the gym, but I had to get groceries and then while I was out I had to run some other errands and then…” (insert infinite number of events that go until the conclusion of the day making going to the gym impossible).  This is an example of getting overwhelmed with too many ways to spend time instead of just picking one thing at a time a focusing on that.

Here’s a related  productivity secret that may help you focus on your priorities:

.

The important things in life are the things you do

.

You can tell me that going to the gym and getting in shape is important to you – but if you spend the day watching TV instead of going to the gym than being comfortable is more important that being in shape.  In college you see people who blow off classes and then pull a week of all nighters to pass the term.  This shows me it’s important to them.  Their priorities may have gotten skewed over the course of the term but, at the end of the day, they made themselves very uncomfortable to achieve a goal and that shows where their priorities are.  This is in contrast to the people who say that they’re going to pull all nighter to get the paper done and take the F instead.

.

Here are a couple of inter-related strategies to getting things done:

.

  • If you are not getting things done – Identify what you want to be important and then make it a habit by doing it – a lot.
  • Clearly define your goals.
  • Make daily steps toward achieving those goals.
  • Realize that as each day is different – the results you get each day will be different.
  • When facing discouragement – keep your eye on long term goals.
  • Periodically assess your progress and adjust your actions accordingly.

.

And finally, some related quotes:

.

“If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got”

(Unknown but I did see one reference that attributed it to J. “Moms” Mabley)

.

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. If it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. If it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for.”

– Susan Jeffries

I hope this helps!  As always, thanks for dropping by.

– SC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s