This past year in preparation for moving to a new place, I cleaned up some of the clutter I had accumulated in my life. Among these things – old clothes, broken things that I never fixed and things in the back of the closet that I hadn’t touched for years. However, I retained most of the music equipment, instruments, and music software.
I decided to hold onto these things because I wanted to hold onto the idea of recording music. I wanted to hold onto all the beautiful combinations of instruments where I can forge out my musical identity unhindered and unafraid. This presented a few problems, as we shall see.
- Gear Aquisition Syndrome – this may mean different things to different people. As of this moment for me, this phrase represents an avoidance technique whereby someone substitutes the purchase of an item for actually using it. When the time comes to use the item, you magically find something else to buy. I licked this problem years ago. I stopped buying things but still retained almost everything I purchased. I even selected a few items to either trash or share with my friends. This brings us to our next problem…
- Too Many Choices – yet another avoidance technique in which we simply overwhelm ourselves from ever getting out of the startup gate. It seems so seductive to think that things will be easier when you have all these choices. Years ago, I bought my very first guitar multi-effects unit and instantly I had very convenient access to many sounds. Prior to that, I had a drawerful of pedals. Something I noticed is that right around that time, my recording activity dropped off. It was as if I was stunned. It only got worse once I got the money to buy more multi-effects, more pedals, more instruments and then DAWs (96 tracks? No problem!) and software. Literally thousands of choices – which did not translate to thousands of songs.
- These two things seem to feed each other. I’d get paralyzed by the amount of choices I had and would buy something new and be even more paralyzed. Crazy!
At some point a few years ago, I decided to set into motion some constraints. Off the top of my head, I’d pull out two guitars and a bass and a few pedals (or VSTs) and leave everything else in closets or drawers. I’d stick to the same equipment until I got bored with what I was doing and then call it a “project.” I released a few more mini-albums. This worked better but still presented some issues. For one, I still knew that I had all that stuff in the closet and I was forgetting that some of it was even there. Secondly, I still faced too many choices in all the options we have for writing songs – keys, number of verses, my backlog of lyrical and musical sketches that I have never stopped doing.
Around the same time, I started getting into GTD – Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’s a system that helps you organize things into lists and helps you go back to those lists and be true to them. It worked wonders at my job and with recent medical issues. So I started putting musical activities – mostly tutorials and books – into my lists. I did OK with this for a while – it worked great for lyrics (I’d schedule object writing or writing prompts for each night) and remixing things in the can. I was writing a set of lyrics every day earlier in 2016. Lots of backlog. Lots of archival releases. Little in terms of new finished material. What I found was that learning just for the sake of learning – without a real goal – can also be a bit boring.
Here’s what I am embarking on now –
- Create lists for many if not all aspects of a song – bass sound choices, how many guitars, what key, song length, which midi controller…so many. I came up with over 20 lists.
- Weight the lists accordingly – so for instance, I have a great Aria bass, a decent Epiphone bass and some fretless and multi-stringed ones that I have limited facility on. I also like synth bass. So created a list that had ten occurrences of Aria, 6 of Epi, 3 synths and 1 of the rest. I also included a line for 2 bass sounds and 3 bass sounds.
- Plug these lists into https://www.random.org/lists/
- Schedule any learning, reading or recording time based on what I have randomized
- Important list I have is “maximum tracks” – this should help me finish.
I committed to writing one song by the end of January. Comment and wish me luck, please!
Sorry to pick up from nowhere but please search this blog for GTD for more…
And just for the record, I do not work for or am affiliated with DoIt.IM – indeed I am a bit worried that leaning on the software too much (and then having the company vanish) could be a liability…but I am still doing well with this combination.
Getting very into the book this week.
- Understanding Context much better now…you do the things you can do in that place…Not so afraid to spawn off projects into what they literally should be…anything I want to do that requires multiple steps to complete…which is everything, pretty much
- Lots on reference…so much I needed to add a “Create a great reference system” Project with steps referencing the book
- Today I ran into “day specific reminders” – something I am already doing but leaving myself a Calendar task to look over what I have and a few nice lists in the book. Things like “I want to think about this one this day” – careers, events, possibilities
- Finally got to the “Tickler File” – something I was worried wasn’t in the DoIt software this looks like it is already handled by my use of DoIt.IM – and it looks like I am already tickling….things like “this has to be done on a certain day” – again, Calendar tasks – things that allow you to empty your mind of the stress of keeping track of it all. The key to this – and all of GTD – is to use something you trust and review it regularly. To get it out of your head and into something external. These two bullets represent some intuition I already had about the system that now lets me see the difference between Next (which is next time I am free) and putting something on a calendar and pushing it back until it and the entire calendar becomes meaningless – I had been doing this.
- Left off reading the Checklists:Creative and Constructive Reminders section
Today I’ll put in a rundown of my Next actions in my “GTD” project…
An article about Hipster PDA – moved to Someday
Make My Documents (Home Computer) into a GTD reference system – converted to Project
Review Waiting For and add due and reference dates – stays in Next
Review Slack page – moved to Someday
Remove Projects that aren’t really Projects – stays in Next
An article about working on weekends – moved to Someday
Productivity 101, GTD Primer – moved to Someday, to concentrate on finishing the book
Guide to note-taking – moved to Someday
GTD in Outlook – moved to Someday, so far my system of forwarding tasks and meetings to DoIT.IM works great for emails that break the two-minute rule
Schedules of Successful People article – moved to Someday
Contexts list reassessment – stays in Next
50 Rut-Busting Tips For Improved Workflow – moved to Someday
In addition, I added an item
Use notecards to enumerate/inbox everything around the apartment
This one will be short… I’m getting close to 50% complete on the GTD book.
GTD usingthe Doit.IM workflow was fantastic coming back to work today after having Monday off. Stress level was much lower than what surrounds these situations typically. “Waiting For” list proved invaluable.
Someday, Next and “Reference” (which does not exist in the program/app/site at all) were still a bit of a blur for me. I used Next a bit but I can’t help but feeling that I am not using it consistently. I had so much stuff in Next that I ended up taking a little time to get some of it into Someday. I created a “Reference” context not long ago but since it is not really a context, that adds complexity that does not work with this system. I started thinking that it should be a Focus and put in a feature request for that.
I’ve previously put in a feature request to allow drag/drop to tags, which I have stopped using almost entirely. My Inbox workflow is to drag a new item to context first and then to Project, which makes the item disappear from Inbox. My workflow problem will be and is to not have the Focus set when I drag into a project…what’s wrong with that is Focus will make the item disappear from the Inbox, so you have to “chase” it, which is distracting if I am “Inboxing.”
General Projects aren’t really making it for me either – so I might leave tasks “Projectless” but I am not sure if that will increase stress…That’s all I have for today.
I’m about 1/3 through the book and have been resisting not reading any other books, with varying results. I started reading another book on weekends but I need to rethink that and my time online.
Apparently maintaining a reference system is key to the GTD methodology.
So far, I have been a bit fuzzy on how to handle reference. Doit.IM does not – on the surface – have a reference system so I’ve been using a “reference” context to note either something I may want to read someday (and adding it to the “someday” view) or to note something that could be useful for a project and dropping it under a project folder.
I’m starting to formulate something concerning these fuzzy areas where Doit and GTD meet –
– use tags for reference instead of having one giant reference context because I know I am not going to be consistent with it
– use context strictly for the place I do the task…my fuzzy area here is that I use a “computer” context to indicate work pc, home pc, smart phone or ipads…because so many apps are cross-platform. I’m going to leave that fuzzy alone for now.
– use projects for work projects, for home projects but also maintain projects that are named things like “general photography” “music work” and “discovery – music art photo film”…these might break down later entirely or just become permanant containers from which to spawn more specific projects like “make a macro album on flickr” “mix down 1996 music material and release” “learn how to paint faces” and “get a car”…these projects are essentially review lists that have not been activated and will need a few hours to digest
– “goals” will be containers for projects and I am waiting until I see this called out in the book before I start to use them.
– also physical stuff – I have to spend a nice afternoon or month of weekends even filing physical things into these contexts and projects and into a reference system. I’m waiting to get the electronic side sorted out a bit more but physical is coming soon.
I have been at David Allen’s system for about a month…using Doit.IM as the main electronic tool. My Kindle app tells me that I am only 21% completed on the book, so I added that as a nightly task for myself.
I am just becoming aware that reviewing and reflecting are very important – not only for the daily popups that the app gives me but also looking back at the Next list . This blog I believe is “reflecting”…I just hadn’t consciously thought of it…and consciously thinking of everything is apparently how the system works…
Still rather fuzzy on whether things should be goals or projects or tags. Contexts I’ve got. Projects make sense at work. It’s really the stuff that are either “endless proejcts” like household general things or bills, things like that. Harder to define. Tags I almost hate – because the app can’t drag to them…they are almost an afterthought and I think a distraction. Goals I like but I can see Goals as a collection of Projects. This may be the way I do it.
The Next list has changed for me from being something that *has* to be done (because that is what the calendar is for) to things that you do when you have extra time. A close cousin to the Next list are tasks that are not scheduled by time of day but rather by day. Still mixing those up a bit and wishing I can see them all in one spot. Something I should schedule would be reviewing the Next list, perhaps twice a day.
Someday list is huge and I need to schedule something like monthly to review this one….
Waiting list is crucial and needs to be checked several times a day, much like each Project list and the calendar.
So that’s where I am – scheduling reviews. I’m not sure if this is in line with the system or if I am going too deep in that direction…I will keep reading the book and adjust as it makes more sense to me.
Things have been rolling along just fine using DoIt.IM and learning more and more about the GTD system…very full day today, from work goals, paying bills to going to the gym tonight (new membership). Tired…but I got lots done!