I know I am not the only one with this problem. There's something I would like to do, that I have the means to do but for some reason I just can't seem to get it done. I've been trying to finish an album for probably over six years now. I've also been needing to finish up a printable resume and take photos and create better graphics for my website. I have numerous recording and music projects to work on and finish up. I have everything I need - and more - to accomplish everything I want, and need to do.
So what's stopping me?
I hear myself complaining a lot about not being able to get stuff done at home. I don't think that is uncommon. There can be many distractions and sometimes the mind just needs a place set aside for just work. I started going to the new public library downtown and worked on writing blog posts and finishing up websites. I found I could be fairly productive there. Unfortunately, that didn't solve all of my problems.
For many of my projects, I really needed to be able to use my own computer, with my software and files. Not everything is cloud-compatible (yet, at least). My solution to this was, obviously I need a MacBook Pro. There really are quite a few legitimate reasons to have one in the house. However, spending two-grand right now isn't the wisest move. The reality is that I have what I need to do my work.
My next complaint was that the computer was set up in such a way that it was uncomfortable to use. I have always struggled with desk height, chairs and monitor position. As much as I would love to have the need to set up my room in the house as a recording studio, that's not really what most of my work now requires. I had everything set up around my mixing board. The computer keyboard was on a tray underneath the mixing desk, and the monitor was on a mount hovering above the board. This would be a great set up if I were to be making a lot of mixes on my board. However, I wasn't, and never really have. It mostly gets used as a bunch of recording channels, not an actual mixer - so there was really no need for it to be the item that was front and center. Plus, it recently developed some noise and needs to be taken apart and cleaned.
So I gave in. My focus now has to be on a useful, comfortable set up to use the computer for the projects I've working on now. The mixer is out of the room, waiting for repair. The keyboard is no longer hidden under the table where it's uncomfortable to type and difficult to see. With the keyboard up top, I no longer need the keyboard tray and can remove it to have more clearance under the desk. The monitor can now be in a lower position with a more comfortable viewing angle. I no longer have to turn on all of my recording equipment just to have my speakers on, my Apogee Duet is on the desk for easy control of the volume and for using headphones. My MIDI keyboard is up on the desk, ready to go, as well.
Maybe most importantly, I now have some table top workspace. I can have printed sheet music laying out, write down notes and have a place to rest my arms. While the re-imagining of my workspace it's entirely completed yet, this is a major first step and took care of some of my major hurdles. I have found that most of the reasons I complain about that are keeping me from being productive, are barriers that I could simply step around. Now if I could just get that dog to understand that just because I'm home doesn't mean it's play time!
So what's stopping you?
What are you hurdles and barriers?
What can you do to overcome them?
My newly cleared off and now functioning workspace.
Leading up to my 30th birthday, my main goal was to cut out eating fast food and drinking unhealthy beverages. I had also wanted to loose some weight. My wife had some success with the ten week challenge at Farrell's Extreme Body-shaping. Not only was it providing a good, balanced workout, but they also put a huge emphasis on nutrition. I eventually decided to sign up and give it a shot. While I did not hit my weight goal for my birthday, I did however manage to stop eating fast food and drinking soda and sugary juices. Along with that, I was stronger than I have ever been and generally had more energy. My body just felt like it was running better.
At the beginning of August, about one month prior to my 30th birthday, I received the news that I would no longer have a job after the end of the month. It was a job that I really enjoyed and a great direction for my desired career path (which is somewhat lucrative, at least in the area). The job actually fit very well into my life, and would have been a great situation for when my wife and I start a family. Although it was difficult to go into work everyday knowing it would soon be my last, I was grateful for having the time to prepare for new employment (more on this later).
I have long held the belief that it will become progressively harder to make changes to my lifestyle and habits after I turn 30. I'm not sure where it came from, or of it's truthfulness. However, I figure it can be used to my advantage. Plus, now that I have hit that milestone and along with it becoming unemployed for the first time since high school, I figure now is the time to work on some changes.
So naturally, my first step is to make a list.
- Speak more confidently and assertively
- Consume and waste less
- Eat and live healthier
- Complete more projects I start
Step two is to make a plan.
For the past couple of years, I have been collecting information about how other people have learned to be more productive and work towards their goals. The intent was to be able to get myself better organized to hopefully make a living by doing freelance work or running my own business (also more on this later). However, I feel like much of these ideas I have collected can be applied to achieving any goals. Over the coming weeks, I will lay out my plans and start to share some of the information I will be using to help myself be successful. So stay tuned, and hopefully we can all share some helpful ideas and learn to be better, more producti
I wish I were an early riser. I wish I woke up early and went to sleep easily in the evening. Instead, here I am at 12:45am, up after laying in bed for two hours.
Now, I realize if I had gotten up before 10am the past few days, and didn't get my iPod out after a half hour to read about room acoustics, this might not happen. Before you chime in with any relaxation or breathing techniques, facts about how even the light of an alarm clock can stimulate your brain (and obviously, a phone or computer screen would be much worse) or what time of day is best to exercise - I know. I'm well aware of all these things, and have been able to use them to my advantage in some degree, at some point. However, this has always happened.
As long as I can remember, I've always had troubles with being tired during the day, and not sleepy at night. In the years after high school, it became somewhat of a joke. I would get off work about 3pm and tell my friends I'd be over in a little bit. A little bit for me often times turned into quite a while - because I would fall asleep.
I worked in the kitchen of a restaurant, so when I got home I would smell like whatever was made most that day and frier grease. I would be tired and not feel like taking a shower right away, so I would get on the computer and visit my usual websites (this was before Facebook, if you can remember that).. Inevitably, I would get tired enough that I would lay down on my bedroom floor (I didn't want to get my bed dirty) to rest. I probably slept as well like that on the floor with no pillow than I ever did in my bed at night.
For some reason my brain just likes being active at night. As much as I actually do enjoy being up earlier in the mornings on occasion, I am just not as inspired as I can be at night. I actually don't mind the shorter daylight hours of the fall and winter, because I feel like it gets me into my productive time earlier. I am physically and mentally prepared for different things at different times of the day. I could run errands, jog or do yard work all morning (or early afternoon) long. Sitting down and getting some actual "work" (writing, mixing, editing video/photos, etc.) done seems nearly impossible.
Which that is the problem. Because the world wakes up early.
And it's not fair. I know I am not alone when it comes to being a bit of a night owl. However, we're not who the world is set up for. Most employers seem to think you aught to show up early, on-time and ready to go. Granted, there are some jobs that have good reason for that (think anything that sells coffee). There are many jobs, where the start of the work day has no need to be early. I'm pretty sure many people are getting paid to be 'waking up" while they're at work. I have fallen asleep at work, multiple times. It has been a problem. I never knew I'd fallen asleep until I woke up. Some days I'd spend all morning just trying not to fall asleep. It seems like many industries aren't very aware of this. You would think they would make an attempt to pay their employees for the time they're most productive.
This troubles me because I worry that most of my life, I will get stuck being forced to fit into a schedule that conflicts with who I am. It is unsettling because I need to keep good, steady employment to help support my family and maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Add to this equation that my main skill set (music, media) tends to be undervalued and under appreciated, has me a bit nervous. Now days, everyone can record their own music and edit their own videos, so obviously paying for my time and talent to do it well, and better, shouldn't be valued too much. After all, they could probably do it just as good or better, you know if they had the time or equipment.
Anyways, all I'm saying is, if you really want the best out of me, it's probably not at 7am.
A few years back, I had a strange experience when I went to a gas station to fill up my car. I pulled up to a pump and was parked next to a brand new cherry red Mustang Cobra GT. Quite a fancy and fast car - especially for such an old guy. I would say the man was probably at least near his 80's. He was slightly hunched over in his matching red Cobra leather jacket while pumping gas in his car.
I went about my business and had just put the nozzle in my car when from behind me I heard, "Excuse me young man!" I turned around and the old guy was looking at me. He started to talk, but I couldn't hear him over the traffic and wind noise. I walked over to him and said, "Sorry, what was that?" He held up a ten dollar bill and asked me, "I have $5.22 put in my car, would you go in and pay it for me? I have a bad leg." I agreed and went in to pay for him.
Now, it's not everyday that an old guy asks me to take his money and go pay for his gas. Although, it is pretty common for an old guy to have a bad leg and a hard time walking. It was also a very cold windy day, so I don't blame him for not wanting to slowly shift across the parking lot. So that wasn't that out of the ordinary, but $5.22 in gas? That was barely three gallons (at the time). Oh well, whatever.
I pay and walk back out with his change, and think to myself that if he offers to let me keep some of it, I would decline. An elderly person should be able to get a 25 year old to take a minute of time to do something that would be a hassle for an old guy and not have to give anything other than their gratitude.
I get back to his car and he's sitting in the driver's seat with the door open. I look in and the guy is dead. Not really, that would have really freaked me out. Anyways, I hand him back the change and he says "thanks," and then wants me to close the door for him.
It felt kind of weird. At first I felt good - helping the old guy out. Then I felt like I was a valet. I guess I was expecting an old dude with such a nice car to offer me a buck or two for helping him out, even though I didn't think it was necessary. Being asked to close his door took me by surprise.
I finish filling up my car with gas, go in to pay and come back out to my car. I get in and buckle up, look over and see the old guy is still sitting in his car - revved up ready to go, but not moving. He's dead. No, not really. Just kidding again. He happened to be faced my direction and gave me a small 'thanks' nod with a big drip of snot on his nose. I look back to my car, turn it on and reset my trip odometer. Then I hear some "clink" sounds. I look over at the old man again, and see he's now rolling up his window, and I wonder... did he just toss the change out of the window? That might upset me a little. If he didn't want it, he could have offered to let a kind 25 year-old who helped him out keep it. It just confused me even more with this whole situation.
None of this is a big deal, maybe you just had to have been there, but it just gave me a strange feeling. From feeling good and helpful to being moderately used. It was just... strange.
So I drove off. He was still parked in his car. I looked as I drove away and sure enough, I spotted some change on the ground! And there were quarters in there, quarters! Quarters are my favorite coin...
It has taken me numerous years, platforms and designs to finally get something online. I have a hardwired need to create and have always needed an outlet. This is it. This is the final fresh start.
My goal here is to create and collect a body of work. To be a living portfolio of what I can do and what I have done. To showcase not only my own creativity, but also shine a light on the accomplishments of others who have influenced or inspired me as well.
This is as much for my personal use as it is professional. I do not see much difference between the two anymore. Editing video requires it's own rhythm and structure, like a song. Writing and design are much the same way. There is a framework - and underlying structure - to most things in life that is a language all it's own. Every building, piece of art, song and life are their own story. Things that may not seem similar to each other, can be thought of in many of the same ways. Each element of something has it's own weight, and learning to keep things balanced can be applied to anything in life.
So while my recordings and thoughts on design may not always seem related to my professional career, everything is just practice, more experience - better understanding - for the next step, a new chapter in life.