Are You Prioritizing the Impact of Your Studio’s Success?
Today is the third day in the 5x’ing Your Home Studio Success series.
If you missed the first two parts, check them out below:
A lot of you shared your stories of self-doubt and uncertainty, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I share your concerns! Self-doubt and imposter syndrome is a common problem with all creatives. My favorite story about self-doubt comes from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman:
“Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things. On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.” And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
So no matter how much of a star you are, self-doubt is a universal feeling. For the best book on overcoming procrastination and imposter-syndrome, I recommend The War of Art.
At this point, if you’ve been following along, you’ve set your goals and created an idea of a routine to move closer to your goal. Making your tasks a habit is the key to creating continuous improvement. A little bit of work every day, no matter how small, will sooner or later add up to a significant accomplishment.
Today we’ll talk about the mentality of those tasks and figuring out which one of them are important.
Part 3 – Intention and Impact
Not all tasks are created equal. Most work falls into one of two categories:
- Deep and impactful creative work
- Scattered and shallow busywork
Remember the last time you ended a workday and said to yourself, “man, I felt like I was working hard all day, but I didn’t really feel like I did anything.”
That’s busywork. Something you do to make yourself look like you’re working. These are usually “little tweaks” that are unnecessary. Reviewing stats, “planning” instead of “doing” (I do this a lot), or just refreshing your email inbox so you can tackle something meaningless instead of doing the deep work that’s necessary. It’s the equivalent of walking around the office with a stack of papers that you’re taking nowhere in particular. Hey, at least you look like you’re working!
Unfortunately, it’s a colossal waste of time. Just imagine how many hours you could free up to work on your creative projects if you eliminated the busywork from your life.
If you’re going to accomplish great creative things, you need to prioritize deep work, not busywork. In Cal Newport’s excellent book, Deep Work, he describes it as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive twenty-first-century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.”
It is the only type of work that moves the needle and brings you closer to your goals. Work that has intention will make an impact.
In the last year or so I’ve felt very scattered, spread thin and overly frazzled with my work. I felt like my creativity was suffering from it so I did an honest audit of my workweek to see if I could pinpoint the source of my problems.
So I wrote down all the tasks I did at Audio Issues.
I came up with 28 different tasks I did every week to keep the business going.
Then, I wrote a second list. Of those 28 tasks, which ones could only I do? And I just came up with five…
I was wasting time working on non-productive tasks at the expense of the impactful, creative work that I was supposed to be doing. No wonder I was feeling frazzled if I was task-switching all the time.
So, I began to systematically automate the tasks that could be automated (using Zapier), and I hired an assistant to tackle the rest.
Now, you may not have the luxury to hire an assistant, or the ability to automate your tasks, but you can certainly audit your schedule to find extra time.
That brings me to the action task of today:
Audit for Impact
Take some time today and write down all the things you do in your creative work. Not just the actual creative work, like mixing or songwriting, but all the related tasks you do that you think will contribute to its success.
Then prioritize the list according to the amount of impact each task has using Paul Allen’s GTD system:
- Delegate – Can you give it to someone else or automate it with systems?
- Defer – Can it wait? If it’s not a priority, defer it for later.
- Delete – Can it wait forever? Then you might as well delete it.
- Do – This is the real work you need to do.
So, to sum up:
- Prioritize impact, eliminate busywork.
- Schedule your time for deep, intentional and impactful work.
- Put it on your calendar and show up for it. Give it the respect it deserves.
- Follow through with your plan.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the tools and systems you can use to increase your chances of success. Before we get into Tools, I want to know what your goals are and what kind of tools you are looking for to help you achieve those goals.
Leave a comment to let me know. I’ll do my best to help you out in the best way that I can.