So this morning I woke up in a fresh new week. As happy as I am to embrace a new week of possibilities, this morning I was tired, and feeling the need to recharge. I’m hitting the new week straight off the back of a busy(ish) week of: late night partying (in the loosest sense of the word – I don’t even drink alcohol anymore); late night gigs; and decorating a new home. The week ended with Sunday spent in a Recording Studio for an all day vocal session that pushed my voice further than I thought it would. Session work is great but the Studio Engineer doesn’t care that your throat is tired from the week you’ve put in – you gotta ‘Bring It’ on any day you’ve agreed to ‘Bring It’. Still, any day in a Recording Studio is better than most days… unless you get to spend the day at the Playboy Mansion. *insert smiley devil emoji*
So this morning I decided to chill out under the duvet for a few hours and have an old fashioned bed morning with a cup of green tea, a good book, and my trusty Beagle lying cuddled into me. Yes… I know… all the experts say a dog should never be on the bed but I just can’t resist a four legged hot-water bottle full of cuddles.
I did the things I know I shouldn’t do first thing in the morning (if I want a productive day) – I surfed Instagram, checked emails, updated my profile on one of the many Musicians For Hire websites I dance with from time to time, and sent a few quotes to prospective ‘clients’ (aka people needing some music that won’t destroy their event). Doing these things first thing in the morning is a big No-No for almost every successful and productive being on the planet. The premise is simple – ‘Start The Day Well To End The Day Well.’ All of the above things disrupt your mind in many ways if done first thing in the morning. My morning routine for a great day currently looks something like this:
i) Jump Out Of Bed, Smile, Breathe Deeply & Say ‘Thank You’ (Gratitude is a powerful energy to harness.)
ii) Knock Out 10 Pushups (Energizes & Gets The Engine Running)
iii) Make A To-Do List For The Day Ahead
iv) Make Up Two Super Healthy Protein Smoothies (Plant-Based fuel for when I need it)
v) Make Up Two Flasks Of Lemon Water (Hydration For The Day)
vi) Jump In The Car With My Gym Bag & Listen To A Podcast On The Way To The Gym (Motivation & Knowledge)
vii) Gym Session & 3 Rounds of Sauna & Ice Shower (Strength Training For Body & Mind )
That’s the basic routine I’m working with/implementing at the minute and it’s working well for me. I’m progressing to adding a quick round of meditation and a round of the Wim Hoff Method in there to get my Morning Routine supercharged. I’m basically building one or two small, simple habits at a time and letting them grow. The best way to lose bad habits is to implement new ones. The more good habits you implement the less bad habits you will have time or room for. It really is that simple.
But hey, today was my day to unwind and chill the heck out. Today is going to abide by my rules.
Then all of a sudden I started to feel semi-focused, and reflective on a particular part of my ‘Work’ life. My buddy and I run a Youtube Channel to flex our creative zaniness, and we also run a Production Company that offers Filmmaking Services covering every aspect of the process, from conception of the video to the final product. We’ve spent the last two years getting our shit together in our own lives, focusing on positive energy, gathering up some tasty equipment, studying our craft relentlessly, and getting high on the creativity. We have books/journals/jotters filled with solid ideas and plans. We don’t stress about targets, money, or any of the spreadsheet-based/flowchart-driven methods of running a business. We’ve just been floating about, enjoying the ride, taking each day as it comes. This morning I just had this gentle feeling that it was time to balance up all this creativity with a big dose of solid productivity. So I thought “let’s implement some sort of routine that will give us solid productivity on a weekly basis.” So I sent a message to my buddy with a quick plan of what we could do. He sent me the reply that I wanted, basically saying “Yeah, that’s been on my mind too. Lets Do It!” I replied telling him I would go get my home recording studio cleaned out and start work on getting some audio laid down for three videos that we can then film, edit, and upload on Friday. I was fired up. My buddy replied with “You should write a song about putting tasks off cause you’ll think of something! hahaha” We chuckled at how true that normally is and then I sprang out of my bed with focus, determination, and zeal for the task at hand…
Now lets look at a quick snapshot of how the next ninety minutes looked immediately after I sprang out of bed:
i) Went into my studio to start work; noticed a pile of my clothes on the floor (an unfinished “pack up all unnecessary clothes and start the ‘Minimalist Experiment’” task).
ii) Lifted aforementioned clothes and went to place them in the airing cupboard.
iii) Noticed another pile of clothes in the airing cupboard (yet another pile from the ‘Minimalist Experiment’).
iv) Decided to sort both piles of clothes AND my wardrobe.
v) Went downstairs to let the Beagle out.
vi) Started cleaning the kitchen.
vii) Made the Plumber his lunch.
viii) Spotted a few guitars I had left sitting at the bottom of the stairs a few weeks ago when we were moving in.
ix) Decided to lift guitars, open up the cases, and start doing a bit of work to them that ‘needed’ done.
x) Went upstairs and started to clean the bathroom and rearrange the cupboard under the sink.
xi) Came back downstairs to survey all the work carried out by the Plumber in the downstairs bathroom.
xii) Sat on the new toilet, with it’s not so subtle new pink flamingo toilet seat and surveyed with great satisfaction the wallpapering job me and my buddy tackled the week before.
xiii) Looked at the pink flamingo wallpaper and toilet seat combo, cracked a joke to my wife about how it looks like Miami threw up in our bathroom, and sat there wondering if there was any way I could hook a small sound system up so that every time someone used the downstairs toilet the theme tune from Miami Vice would start playing.
xiv) Went back to the upstairs bathroom, looked around for a minute or two wondering what toilet seat Her Majesty will want on this toilet, got down on my hands and knees to get stuck back into cleaning underneath the sink, and had an instant flashback of the aforementioned “Putting tasks off” message. I laughed, with a small amount of disbelief, and awe.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that I then paid immediate attention to my epiphany and went straight to do the studio work I was supposed to be doing. No, I texted my buddy a lot of laughy emojis telling him how my last ninety minutes looked. The Procrastination Ninjas had surrounded me and completely handed me my ass without me being aware of their presence whatsoever. It was like stepping into the cage with the intent of knocking your opponent out cold and then waking up with a crowd round you, and the faint odour of smelling salts, with no memory of even throwing one punch.
Here’s the real kick in the babymaker – I have two guitar cases lying open and two guitars half taken apart in my living room; I have two cabinets in my bathroom which are half cleaned and half arranged; a kitchen that is half cleaned; a new toilet and sink in the downstairs bathroom, with the various warning labels they come with, half peeled off; and I now have THREE random piles of clothes upstairs that need sorted… and a load of Google Search pages opened at various “How To Link A Sound System To Your Toilet” posts.
The Creative Mind is like a wild animal that is cursed with excellent, but unrelenting peripheral vision where only Procrastination Ninjas can move undetected. It’s like a ship bouncing about the gentle waves of blue waters, surrounded by distractions, self doubt, second guessing, and pink flamingos. The only way to offset the negative aspects of the Creative Mind is to introduce Focus. Easier said than done? Well actually it’s easier than you might think. I’m just having an ‘off’ day. Today I have proven to myself that a solid morning routine is imperative if I want to be truly productive. I’ve also proven to myself that being busy does not equate to being productive. Productivity is the byproduct of Creativity & Focus. It’s that simple. Take the simplicity of a To-Do list for instance. When you have a To-Do list made out you have a clear path to walk on for that day. If your To-Do list has five tasks on it and you complete three then you’ve had a productive day. Make that a part of your morning routine along with a few other solid habits and you will see your productivity soar within a matter of weeks, maybe even days.
It’s now four hours since I went to tidy my studio. After I thought I had defeated the Procrastination Ninjas I went back to the task at hand… and ended up sitting at my laptop writing this Blog. There’s another lesson in that: Sometimes in life it’s procrastination, and sometimes it’s the act of recognising the voice that whispers “look, you gotta do THIS right now instead of what you’d planned to do.” So now we have Creativity, Productivity, & Self Awareness…
I have Latin writing tattooed right the way down my spine from the nape of my neck to the top of my butt. (It hurt like a motherf**ker. If the Tattoo had one more letter I know I would have passed out. My legs were starting to wobble just as the Tattooist shouted “That’s you all done, dude!”) I read it in a Stephen King novel (Duma Key) many years ago while on holiday, and I knew instantly I would get it inked on my back. It reads: Abyssus Abyssum Invocat. The literal translation is ‘Hell Invokes Hell’. A more liberal translation is ‘One Mistep Leads To Another’. I know for me it works both ways, and that every Yin has it’s Yang. I focus on the Yang – One GOOD Step Leads To Another… Or as Swami Vivekananda so effortlessly put it almost 150 years ago: “Observe the blossoms on the fruit trees. The blossoms vanish of themselves as the fruit grows. So too will the lower self vanish as the divine grows within you. The apples do not get into a deep conflict with the blossoms that are in their designated space on the branches of the tree. There is no anger, no fear, no battle between the fruit and its blossoms. As the fruit grows the blossoms disappear. This is true also as you fill the rooms of life with the magnificent seven highest vibrating energies of spirit. As the Native Americans would say, “No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.”
Do you want to quit your bad habits without a struggle? Simply start forming good habits and watch the bad ones naturally fall away. I’ve experienced this with great success in every aspect of my life over the past few years and it has been a gentle, stress free process.
One last thought. Monday does not have to be the dreaded day everyone tells you it is. I make Monday my own, every week in life, regardless of whether it’s a productive Monday, a lazy Monday, or a haphazard Monday… and I’m always ready to change my plans if I hear the gentle whisper advising me to change my course. Do you want to do something of value that will help you and everyone around you? Make Monday your own. Don’t dread it. Don’t buy into the ‘Mondays Suck’ bullshit that everyone peddles. Do what you have to do to make Monday your own because Happiness should be aspired to at all costs… as long as it doesn’t bring harm or detriment to another soul. Body, Mind, Spirit are the three things you’re born with and the three things that when balanced will give you the productivity and creativity to make one life full of the joy and productivity of multiple lifetimes.
My studio still isn’t cleared out and ready for work but it will be…
*insert sunglasses emoji*