Are you constantly getting distracted? Do you feel bombarded by options, and does that make it harder for you to make decisions?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I talk about why fewer options are better, and how to reclaim your focus.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Something I discovered about myself
  • 01:40 – An important realization – the fewer the options you have, the better
  • 02:14 – Prioritizing what’s important to you
  • 02:47 – Our lives are more cluttered than ever before
  • 03:06 – Imagine what it would be like if you had fewer distractions
  • 04:55 – Think about what would be possible if you dedicated an hour per day to your highest priorities
  • 05:25 – Work will always fill the space you’ve allotted for it
  • 05:40 – Some questions to ask yourself

Transcription:

I recently moved into my new home.

Upon arrival, the internet was supposed to work. It didn’t.

I called the cable company, but to no avail. They couldn’t help me get my internet up and running from their support center either. They said a technician would have to come by the following week to get it connected.

But life goes on in spite of your problems. Deadlines don’t adapt to your circumstances. When you have work to do, you must find a way to get it done.

When you have work to do, you must find a way to get it done. Click To Tweet

Where I live, WiFi connections are available everywhere, and I own a couple of laptops, so finding a place to do my work wasn’t exactly an issue.

But there are some slight inconveniences to working on one of my laptops versus my desktop computer. For one, I don’t have as much screen retail space to work with. For another, many of my most important files are stored on my desktop computer, which has more hard drive space.

But sometimes you must make do with what you’ve got, which is what I did.

As I took my laptop with me around town to do work, I had an important realization about the limitations I was forced to work with.

I discovered I was able to concentrate better on the tasks in front of me.

The problem with computers is that they are a gateway to a near infinite number of possibilities, especially if they are connected to the internet.

When working at coffee shops with limited connectivity, or working at home where I had no connection, I was better able to focus on what I was working on. While writing, I was fully in writing mode, not distracted by social media, Photoshop, email, an article that’s open in my browser window, and half a dozen other things.

This caused me to realize that the fewer options you have, the better, especially when you’re working on something that matters to you.

When you're working on something that matters to you, the fewer the options (distractions), the better. Click To Tweet

I tend to spread my time between many things, such as graphic design, web development, email, songwriting, audio production, video editing, and writing. But one of the highest priority activities in my life is writing.

Wring is how I’ve built a popular music industry blog. It’s how I’ve earned two-thirds of my living for many years. It’s how I’ve built many valuable industry connections. It’s how I develop books, courses, and other resources that thousands of people consume and pay money for.

So, it would make sense for me to allot a larger portion of my time to writing compared to anything else. I derive some of the greatest value in my life from writing.

Spend the most time on whatever you derive the most value from. Click To Tweet

The ability to focus on that discipline without being distracted has resulted in increased productivity, even though the lack of an internet connection at home has proven inconvenient at times.

I don’t know about you, but I can be easily distracted. It’s not a weakness to admit that. Rather, it’s something you should know about yourself, so you can come up with strategies to cope with it. For me, clearing away the excess clutter has obviously been beneficial.

It’s important to realize our lives are more cluttered than ever. We have so many ways to communicate and consume information, and so much coming at us at all times that we forget we’re being inundated with other people’s agendas and priorities. We barely pay any attention to what matters most to us. We live in the past and the future instead of in the moment.

If you aren’t convinced, then let me paint a picture for you.

What if you had a special room with only a guitar in it? What if you locked yourself in that room every day for an hour? What if you had no distractions, your mind was clear, and you were motivated to get some work done? Do you think you would get better at guitar?

Some people tell me it can be hard to advance as a player, especially if you’ve been playing the instrument for a long time.

I have to disagree. I find 15 minutes of focused practice time is more than enough to make progress as a guitarist, and I’ve been playing for nearly 16 years! Sometimes, I can learn an entire guitar solo in that time.

The problem today is people don’t focus. We’re under the illusion that we’re focusing, when in reality we’re allowing unnecessary distractions into our lives all the time – TV shows and movies, YouTube videos, emails, texts, instant messages, phone calls, postal mail, and the list goes on.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re an electronic music producer. Maybe you only own one laptop right now, so you use it for everything – email, word processing, spread sheets, video games, and so on.

What if you had a single laptop dedicated for the purpose of audio production? This would allow you to get away from other distractions and simply concentrate on the act of creating great music.

Please note: I’m not asking you to cut everything out of your life and stay focused on your highest priorities for the entire duration of your waking hours. Some people can do that, but for most, it would be ridiculous. Plus, I’ve been finding considerable value in having a life outside of my work, especially in the last six months. I think you would too. If you’ve been going at it hard lately, then please do yourself a favor, take the day off early, go see a movie, get out in nature, or do something that energizes you. You’ll thank me for it later.

What I am asking you to think about is what would be possible if you dedicated an hour – with every bit of attention and concentration you could muster – to each of your highest priority tasks every single day. This may surprise you, but I think you would find yourself more productive than 80% of people out there.

By the way, I would not advise picking more than two or three things to focus on, because that seems to be about what most people can handle at a given time. If you take on too much, you’ll wear yourself down and spread yourself too thin.

As it has often been said, work will always fill the space you’ve allotted for it. This doesn’t mean you can complete something that takes six hours in one hour, but it does mean one hour of focused effort can produce better results than six hours of halfhearted, distracted effort.

In closing, here are a few questions to get you thinking:

In what areas of your life do you have too many distractions? What would you consider your highest priority tasks? Do you think dedicating an hour of focused effort into each of your most important projects would allow you to achieve more? Where are you wasting the most time, and what could you do to reclaim it?

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David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe

Founder & CEO at The Music Entrepreneur HQ
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a performance schedule with Long Jon Lev and Adrenalize. If you'd like to be notified whenever the blog is updated, click here to subscribe.
David Andrew Wiebe
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