First off: You’re not insane, but you are on the road to getting there. The average creative individual is often plagued with these uncontrolled thoughts and ideas. By giving them all an equal voice we make it virtually impossible to deal with any of them effectively. They’re not bad ideas, they’re just not prioritized and dealt with properly. The best ideas and plans when executed at the wrong time, or the wrong way, can lead towards the worst results. This is a timeless concept supported by timeless quotes: “A time and a place for everything”, “Right tool for the right job” and so-on.
Luckily these are simple problems with simple solutions. Notice I did not say “easy”. When something is simple it usually means fewer steps are involved, not necessarily easier. When fewer steps are involved it gives the possibility of failure a higher percentage. Something complicated has more steps, therefore more room for error. While something complicated may take more time and steps to accomplish, we have a better chance of success that way. (These definitions are often times confused). The reason I bring this up is because as artists we all like to think of ourselves as complicated. We find it insulting to even consider that we are simple, or predictable in nature. Ironically this desire to be complicated is what makes us predictable.
- Before throwing a party you need to get your house in order. This is the same analogy as putting on your own oxygen mask during an aircraft emergency before assisting others. You can’t be of any assistance to others if you are helpless as well. So before taking on any more tasks or projects, schedule and organize what you currently are committed to. Basically “Clean your house”. As artists we all have the bad habit of taking on too much because we have no idea how much we already have on our plate.
- Set parameters and prioritize the ideas, projects and tasks that you will let in and alot time to. This is like setting up a triage for an emergency room. You analyze each of the patients before prioritizing and deciding which ones you will see and when. In keeping with the “Nightclub” analogy, you need to have a huge doorman that picks and chooses which ideas he lets beyond the velvet rope. Not only is this doorman selective, but he considers these choices only when there is room for them to enter.
- The third step is a modified version of the first. You have to continuously be cleaning your house. Acting as a bouncer and rotating the toxic, or unproductive elements out of your Nightclub. This both keeps the party under control and allows room for new ideas and tasks to enter. Initially we tend to decide between ideas, based on If they are “good” or “bad”. Later on we must refine this to weed through the “good” ideas to determine the ones that match our strengths and are the most productive. This process of prioritizing allows us to be selective on what we take on, without guilt.
- Lastly, we must learn the fine art of saying “no”. When we are booked to the hilt, we have only three choices concerning new ideas. Delegate the authority to somebody else, eliminate a prior commitment, or just say no.
It seems too simple, but that is the key. Simple problems deserve simple answers. Being overwelmed is not the inability of dealing with too many good ideas. It is the act of not recognizing the priority of these ideas and attempting to give them all equal attention, which is not physically possible. Perfectly simple, rarely easy and definitely necessary.
Is it possible to categorize and prioritize your life in a few simple days? Of course not, it is an ongoing task that is never completed till the day we die. This may sound depressing, but don’t let this get you down. The constant practice of categorizing and prioritizing will actually relieve the stress that plagues you at night. When handled consistantly this process will eliminate the unending crowd of ideas. You’ll be able to sleep at night. because the day’s work is done and the process will pick up where you left off in the morning.
As Artists we love to portray ourselves as radical and anarchistic, but in the long run we crave and need structure. Organizing and prioritizing ideas does not stifle one’s creativity, it allows it to flow and become realized faster and more efficiently. Perception is reality. It takes a lot of forethought and planning to create the appearance of true spontaneity.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as much as I had writing it. I would love to read your comments, experiences, or suggestions concerning this topic. Please sign up for my newsletter and follow me on your favorite Social Media group.