Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my garden while watering the plants with the sprinkler. The weather was hot but I was sitting in the shade just finished eating a juicy apple fallen from the tree. Hmm… Life felt good.
With this optimistic mood I decided I want to work on my organ recital proposals for 15 minutes. So I took out my laptop and fired it up.
I wanted to find some venues to submit for my and Ausra’s organ duet recitals for the upcoming years. The best place to look seemed social media.
I opened Facebook and scrolled a bit to see if any of my friends are playing any interesting organs. My plan was to contact those places where regular organ recitals are being held over the year.
Simple enough. But when I saw my Facebook feed, I got distracted by ads and by other irrelevant posts from my network.
Before I knew it, my 15 minutes were up but I haven’t done anything yet to get me closer to my goal of scheduling some organ duet recitals for the upcoming years.
You see, how dangerous it is to start social media. You can be distracted from whatever it is you want to do creatively - write, draw, compose music, create a video. And it’s so difficult to go back to work.
On Facebook, for example, I saw this curious ad about a new tablet perfect for hand drawing that imitates paper. Although I’m actually happy of using my pocket notebook for my Pinky and Spiky comic strips I felt really intrigued by the ad.
I clicked through, even read a blog post on the site while knowing deep down I won’t buy it. Because I don’t need it. But my feeling was I wanted it.
So another 15 minutes passed and I didn’t actually do anything about those organ duet recital proposals I initially opened Facebook for.
There you go - 30 minutes of fooling around thanks to constant distractions. Luckily my garden was still being watered so I decided to give my search on Facebook one last time for another 15 minutes. This time for real.
Right there on the top of my Facebook feed I saw that one of my friends played a recital in one of the interesting churches in Germany. With all my will power I resisted the temptation to scroll through my feed again and searched for this church on Google.
I then found church’s website and organist’s contact information after which I wrote an email to him with my proposal. That’s it. It took me 5 minutes of real work.
OK, now I had 10 more minutes left and so I went back to Facebook and saw another photo about organ recital. This time it was a festival in the US. It was easy to contact the organizers because they had a Facebook page and I sent a message to them directly about my organ improvisation recital. Another 5 minutes passed - 5 more to go.
As I was so quick with finding organ recital opportunities through Facebook, I checked again and sure enough, another photo with organ festival in Poland came up. This time I checked Google for the festival website and with a couple of more clicks I was able to send them an email with my organ duet recital proposal. Now my 15 minutes were over.
As I was ready to close my laptop, my eye caught a new message on Facebook from the organ festival organizers in the US. It was a short message saying that my organ improvisation proposal was interesting to them and that they will get back to me in a few weeks when their plans for the next year will be clear.
At the same time this organist from Germany replied saying that he would love to host our organ duet in his church but he also asked for an exchange for him to play in our church. We’ll see what we can do about it.
You see what happened after those 15 minutes of real work? 2 of the 3 contacts had positive replies. Imagine if I had worked for real those 30 minutes at the beginning when I was just distracted by Facebook posts and ads about a wonderful drawing tablet?
I’m not saying I might have gotten 4 more positive replies but I would have sent for sure 6 more organ duet or organ improvisation recital proposals.
So, this is just my experience from yesterday. Imagine how much time we waste every week. 6 times 7 is 42 unsent proposals. Multiply that from 4 and I would get a staggering number of 160. In a month! And do the math - in one year (160 x 12) I’m missing out on over 1900 unsent emails and messages.
If just 1 percent of those proposals went through, Ausra and I could play 19 more recitals and likely much much more. Actually more than we could handle because with each rejection message I get I would learn to improve my proposal instead of writing the organizers the same message over and over.
So this is just my example with organ recital proposals. What about any other creative activity that I and you do every day - write, draw, play, improvise, compose? And what about the other distractions beside Facebook (TV, meetings, surfing the web, YouTube, Email)? We surely are wasting multiple hours every single day.
The same hours which we could spend doing our creative activities which would get us closer to our goals.
I’m not saying we should only work and create. No, some downtime is good for creativity too because we can get inspired sometimes with new ideas for our work. But we can certainly keep the distractions to the healthy level.
The good news is that we can constantly catch ourselves being distracted and gently remind ourselves to go back to work. That’s all it takes.
And it’s probably the only important difference besides prioritizing their activities between people who make it and those who don’t.