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Wednesday Wisdom: Tips for Staying Motivated This Spring

Once the seasons change, and we catch the first glimmers of spring after enduring the winter blahs, it can be hard to stay focused on what we need to do when there’s a sunny day tempting us to go out and have fun. Believe me, I’ve been there. Maybe it’s the conditioning we’ve held onto from school that tells us that once the spring hits, summer is just around the corner, but it can be really hard to concentrate on all the tasks on that to-do list when we’d much rather be enjoying the fresh air.

As musicians, I know you have never-ending to-do lists that practically requires you to split yourself into three (or maybe even four) different humans to take care of the songwriting, and the booking, and the social media, and everything else that comes with growing an artistic career in this day and age. But with just a few tweaks, you’ll be able to fly through that to-do list in no time — even when the last thing you want to do is sit at your computer all day.

1. Do one thing at a time

I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the daunting pile of tasks that need to be done in a day, but I also know that nothing will ever get done if I keep concentrating on the big pile instead of pinpointing the smaller components that comprise it.

Do you need to write a press release for your new single? Do you have to schedule your social media posts for the week? Do you have to finish mixing your new album? Do you have to do all of it? Figure out your deadlines, identify the one critical project that has to get done now, and push the rest aside and out of mind in order to allow your brain the space it needs to accomplish that one task.

Avoid jumping back and forth between tasks—it’ll just slow you down and leave you feeling more unfocused and overwhelmed than ever. Tackle one at a time, and as you begin to check those projects off your list, you’ll keep gaining the momentum you need to maintain focus and make it to the end.

2. Do the hardest thing first, or when you’re at your best during the day

If you have some flexibility with your deadlines, another helpful tactic for staying focused is to complete the task that requires the most effort first, or when you’re most productive during the day.

If you’re a morning person, there’s no use waiting until the end of the day to do that one thing that takes the most brain power (the brain power that you have when you wake up in the morning). Likewise, if you’re a night owl, it’s not going to help matters to try to do it in the morning, instead of during the later hours.

Get to know yourself. Take notice of when you’re the most likely to get things done with the most ease during the day. This way, you’ll eliminate some of that resistance you’re already battling, between any overwhelm you’re facing and the beautiful weather calling your name. You’ll be able to focus better, because you’ll be working in accordance with your natural rhythm.

So, if you’re a morning person, make those early hours the time when you get at those really difficult tasks and cross them off your list. If you’re a night owl, you’ll train your brain to recognize that the hours between 8 and 10 p.m., for example, are when you’ll focus on those difficult tasks. The result: you’ll reclaim some mental space, so you can focus on additional tasks at other points during the day.

For me, there are certain things that I know I need to do (like write this post) as soon as I wake up, while I know that I can accomplish other tasks later in the afternoon, or even later at night. Segmenting my work this way, when possible, has allowed me to maintain better focus in general throughout the work day.

3. Maintain Balance

Everything in life is about balance, and when that balance gets thrown out of whack, we start to feel a little funny. In these strange times, it’s so easy to get swept up in the “have-tos” and the “need-tos” and the “must-dos” and the “want-tos.” The more you get caught in those, the harder it will become to actually do those things. When you go and go (and go) without stopping, you’re eventually going to burn out.

So, aim for balance! Yes, we all have to work, and yes, we all have a mountain of tasks to get done that we know will get us closer to achieving our dreams, but it’s important to take advantage of the in-between times; those five minutes here and the half hour there to do something for ourselves. Even if all you can do is take a couple of big deep breaths, those moments will be your time to realign yourself, and that will only help you better stay on track.

4. Get outside

If those sunshine-y days are distracting you from doing what needs to get done, allow yourself the time to actually enjoy them, instead of punishing yourself and fighting against it. Whether you take a complete break from your to-do list for an hour and take a walk, or you choose to bring your work with you outside, it’s important to be kind to ourselves and recognize when we need to fulfill other needs—like soaking up some of that Vitamin D—in order to perform our best in the most important areas of our lives.

Focusing on to-do lists can be tough — especially when they’re a mile long! — but with just a few small changes to our routines like these, we can truly accomplish anything, no matter the obstacle.



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