Today I want to talk a little bit about how I think about prioritization. Not only projects, but personally. Like when you get overwhelmed and you're doing a million different things, and you have a million expectations on you. What can we do to try to mitigate some of that and how can we figure out how to make the best out of a situation where we're feeling this stress and sense of being overwhelmed?
Maybe you're not even to the point where you're overwhelmed yet, but you just have so many things going on and you're not sure where to put your attention. This happens to me pretty frequently…
Something that I've been trying to do recently (that I am borrowing from a lot of other people that have talked about this) is trying to think about which of all the things/ all the projects/all the places where your energy is being put - if you focus on one of them, will allow you to knock down the rest of them? And by "knock down the rest of them," I mean, which one will affect the rest in a positive way? Which one will allow you to take the next steps the fastest?
For example, if you are an instrumentalist and you're working on your own music… you're working on music for other people….and you're trying to organize a whole bunch of different projects… the thing is, if you don't take care of your business (meaning yourself!), if you don't take care of your instrument, you don't take care of the basics, the fundamentals, getting better all the time, it's not going to matter, because if you don't take care of what the number one thing is (YOU) you’re going to fall behind. Whatever your major is, whatever your most important thing is - if it's your company, your business, your band, your ensemble, your chamber group, if you don't take care of that one thing, the thing you care about the most, all the rest of the stuff is going to fall away.
I'm not saying to abandon everything else, but to prioritize the things that matter to you. To prioritize the things that are going to allow you to get all the things done, by focusing your energy.
If I take care of what I need to take care of in a day to feel good, to feel like I crossed everything off my list, or at least to feel good about the things that I did (practice, take care of business at home, etc), it sets me up to be able to work on all of the external things that pop up. Taking care of yourself and thinking about yourself first can be a challenge, because a lot of people I know think about all the external expectations and get caught in a constant cycle of not be able to take care of themselves, but it really is so important. If you don’t, it leads to not being able to get done things for other people, which makes you feel even more stressed, and still not take care of the things that they need to take care of for themselves! It proliferates this downward spiral, if you will. And we don't want anyone to get there! We want everyone to break the pattern, and start to focus on what they want out of their situation.
Whatever your situation is, whatever you're working on, think about prioritizing the tasks that get you the furthest (i.e.80% of the way there) the fastest. Whatever the things are you need to do for yourself that are going to allow you to take care of everything (and everyone) else.
For me, those things are right now, working out; making sure to practice my instrument (that being the trombone); and writing music every day. If I don't take care of the basics on those fronts, there's no chance for me to be energetic enough to get all of the other projects I'm doing, all of the nonprofit stuff, all the Outside in Music stuff, all the teaching stuff that I do. There's no way, if I don't take care of myself, for me to do all that.
So, I encourage you, in this very hectic time of year, to start to think about how you're going to take care of yourself, and how you can balance everything, by prioritizing your projects.
Thanks for being here. Have an amazing Holiday Season!
- Nick Finzer