I recently read an article that one of the biggest hurdles to being a professional musician is being a “scattered creative”…..aka you have the talent and knowledge to make it happen, but are disorganized and unfocused. Although I know many of you reading this are not interested in pursuing a professional career in the arts, I’m willing to bet that if you adhere to the Art of the Song credo “We All Have A Song to Sing”, that you have some passion you live out in your day-to-day life or want to live out in your day-to-day life. I’d also put my money on the fact that many of you are probably not where you’d like to be in that pursuit and that you may be feeling overwhelmed by the number of steps that you need to take to get to where you want to be.
I am here to help! I recently was introduced to an exercise that I’d love to share with you all. I’ll call it the “My Ideal Day” exercise. It goes like this:
Step 1: Take a big sheet of blank paper, as big as you can find, and draw a circle and divide it into hours of the day such that it represents a 24 hour period (see example of this structure in image above). Title the page “My Actual Day”.
Step 2: Write out hour-by-hour what you typically do. This doesn’t have to be extremely specific. General patterns are fine. If possible, use different colors to denote different activities (i.e. Blue for sleep, Orange for work, Red for art….)
Step 3: Take another big sheet of paper and draw the same circle with 24 hours. Title this page “My Ideal Day”.
Step 4: Now, instead of writing your actual activities, write down what you’d ideally like your day to look like. To be clear, this doesn’t mean in a world where you don’t have to worry about a job or other commitments, but taking into account your current responsibilities, what you could feasibly add into your schedule to accommodate the things you are passionate about? That two hours you spend waking up, checking your emails, getting ready for the day? How about adding 15 minutes of writing time and, say, waiting until you get to work to check your email? The hour of TV you watch before you go to bed? How about just 30 minutes and using the other 30 minutes toward learning that new instrument? Just add in small chunks here and there that feel manageable to add into your current schedule.
Step 5: Commit to it. Make a contract with yourself at the bottom of the page: “I _______, commit to my craft for x amount of time each day”.
I know you may say “Katie, but I’m busy! There really IS no time in my life.” And that, my friend, is simply not true. You know it, and I know it. Busyness is just a way to distract ourselves from being in the moment. And I’m here to echo, in the immortal words of Freebo, “Jump in the damn water”. It doesn’t need to be 5 hours a day, or 3 hours a day, or even 1 hour a day. 15 minutes makes a difference. Committing to it every single day makes a difference.
I’m going to throw in a little philosophy here. Søren Kierkegaard said:
Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy—to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work… What, I wonder, do these busy folks get done?
So try this exercise, and make your ideal day, the day you want, come to life!