Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you constantly falling behind in some area of life? Do you feel like you’re letting others down? Do you feel like a failure?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share how I’ve been able to accomplish more in four days than in the last four months.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:34 – The outcomes of a whirlwind year
  • 01:12 – The rocky ride of 2019
  • 03:48 – Completing the transition
  • 04:59 – The unresolved conflict
  • 05:14 – More progress in four days than four months
  • 05:27 – You’re the only one who can create your world as “overwhelming”
  • 06:10 – Setting boundaries around communication
  • 06:45 – Not having a routine can hurt your productivity
  • 10:12 – What is overwhelm?
  • 10:49 – Final thoughts

Transcription:

This has really been a whirlwind year for me.

A four-month personal development course I took at the front of the year had me creating a new community project and traveling to Vancouver.

Although it was an intense experience, it was worth the money and the effort, because I ended up with a bestselling book and I also brought on new team members to help me with my workload.

That was a byproduct of doing the work I was committed to doing rather than a promised outcome of engaging in community work, but who can argue with a result like that?

By the way, you can learn more about the bestselling book at MusicEntrepreneurHQ.com/Creative.

When I completed the personal development course in May, I felt unstoppable, like I could accomplish anything.

During that four-month period, however, my inbox was rapidly filling up and my project stack was growing. I was also starting to burn out.

And, shortly after, I had my heart broken, and that had me evaluating everything – my lifestyle, where I was living, what I was doing, what was next for me.

French poet, novelist and dramatist of the Romantic movement, Victor Hugo has been quoted as saying:

One cannot resist an idea whose time has come.

A few years earlier, I had been discussing the idea of becoming a digital nomad with Using Your Power co-host Maveen Kaura.

As I was on a walk early this summer, I recognized that the time had come for that idea.

And, it was only a matter of time before my roommate announced that she would be moving back to Vancouver.

Summer turned out to be a lot busier than expected, as I was already feeling devitalized from the rollercoaster ride, I was on.

I took my planned vacations – first in St. Catharines, Ontario in July, and then in Vancouver, BC and Austin, Texas in August.

While in Austin, I attended the DIY Musician Conference and that ended up being pivotal.

It was great meeting so many people I had already established a digital connection with but had never met in person.

Despite the praise and compliments I’ve received for my work; at different times I’ve questioned my involvement in this niche and whether I have anything useful to offer.

I think anyone who is honest with themselves has questioned their direction in life and this is nothing to be ashamed of.

Anyone who is honest with themselves has questioned their direction in life and this is nothing to be ashamed of. Click To Tweet

But at the conference I affirmed that I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing.

By the time September had rolled around, I had to turn my focus to preparing for an early October move 10 hours westward.

Although I ended up putting the finishing touches on a new EP around that time, September moved by in a blur.

I attempted to keep up with my various commitments while preparing for the move, but the load continued to pile up as I was busy chiseling one small piece of a much bigger rock.

It was around that time that we had to put our sick family dog, Kenji, to rest. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m even close to completing the grieving process.

At the last minute, I got winter tires put on my car, which turned out to be a smart move. Unfortunately, I started to experience a myriad of problems with my car, which eventually broke down under an hour from my destination.

What was supposed to be a simple two-day journey extended into a three-day one and once I learned that my car couldn’t be repaired, I had to choose. And, I chose to buy a car.

Somehow, towards the beginning of October, I landed myself in Abbotsford, BC, a city a mere 70 km from Vancouver.

As I record this episode of the podcast, I’m sitting in my basement suite in Abbotsford. Let that sink in.

When 2019 began, I had no idea I would even be moving. Now I’m having a hard time remembering what life was like before.

It’s been over a month since I arrived in BC, and I’m still getting used to my new surroundings. Because I spend long days working, I sometimes forget that I’m in a new environment. My day to day hasn’t changed a whole lot, and I had no expectation that it would.

But there are a couple of reasons I came out here – 1) to see new sights and 2) to connect with people.

Although I know more people in Calgary than I do here, that’s going to be true of just about anywhere I go on my travels, except for Japan, where I grew up.

I had such a great experience meeting people in Austin that I wanted to keep the momentum going.

As I get settled in, I’m starting to connect with more people. And, again, because I forget that I’m in a new environment, I’m not always present to the fact that there is so much to see and do and experience out here, but gradually I’m becoming more present to that.

But before I get too carried away talking about BC, there is a lingering theme to the story I’ve been sharing, and I haven’t brought any resolution to it yet.

You may even be asking yourself: “whatever happened to the mountains of emails and projects you mentioned earlier?”

Admittedly, I’m still working my way through it, but I’ve made more progress in the last four days than I’ve made in the last four months.

How is that possible?

There are a couple of important factors at work here.

First, and most importantly, I got to see that I was the one creating the work as “overwhelming”.

The simple truth is there were things I didn’t want to do, and if I’m being honest, there were also things I fancied myself as being too important to do.

Yep. I’m coming clean – this year, I’ve been rather cold and dismissive in my communication and I take responsibility for that.

I thought I was guarding my precious time, and I do think that’s important. But talking to other entrepreneurs I came to realize that the issue was with me and how I was looking at my workload.

Now, I’m not saying you can, or even should, send me a message about anything and everything, but I do have 90 minutes per day set aside to communicating, so I should be able to get back to you in a reasonable amount of time.

Setting boundaries around communication is 100% necessary, however, and I would encourage every busy person to do it.

Setting boundaries around communication is 100% necessary, however, and I would encourage every busy person to do it. Click To Tweet

Lately, I’ve been taking the first 90 minutes in my day to communicate with others and that has been working well.

And, if I know I’m not going to be able to respond to messages for longer stretches of time, I use an out of office notice.

Whether I’m sick, preparing to move, traveling, at a conference or otherwise, I’ve found immense value in this feature and I would encourage everyone to use it.

I’ve found clients and customers can’t argue with an “out of office” notice. Just don’t abuse it.

Clients and customers can’t argue with an “out of office” notice. Just don’t abuse it. Click To Tweet

This ties nicely into my next point.

I’ve talked about the importance of routine before, but for most of 2019, I didn’t have one.

I think this finally clicked for me as I was working on The Music Entrepreneur Code, a new product you’ll be able to pre-order soon. You can learn more and get on the waiting list at MusicEntrepreneurHQ.com/Code.

There’s a section in there where I talk about this very thing, and I realized I wasn’t living what I was preaching.

Now, we can all fall out of alignment with the structures we’ve created for ourselves.

And, the tendency is to be down on yourself when this happens. But this doesn’t solve anything.

There’s a simple three step process that you can use to get back into integrity and it takes this form:

  1. Recognize what didn’t work.
  2. Acknowledge the impact.
  3. Put a new structure in place.

So, don’t be afraid to fail. All you need to do is create a new structure that works. No need to concern yourself with what doesn’t work.

Don’t be afraid to fail. All you need to do is create a new structure that works. Click To Tweet

Anyway, my new structure basically involves working in 90-minute blocks and taking 30-minute breaks after every 90-minute block.

During those 30 minutes, I’m reading, meditating, exercising, eating or playing guitar.

These 30-minute breaks serve another important function.

Sitting has been called the new smoking, so if you haven’t learned about the dangers of sitting for too long just yet, I would encourage you to Google it.

We also know that it’s good to disconnect from your devices regularly and the 30-minute breaks can encourage this.

Additionally, working in 90-minute blocks is something I picked up from Robin Sharma who says 90-minute stretches are optimal, and if I start my day early enough, I find this works amazingly.

Starting my day early enough was another flaw with my routine though. When I didn’t have proper structure, I always thought I would make up for my lack of productivity during the day by working late into the night.

And, while I did work late some nights, often I would feel exhausted and just tell myself I would do it tomorrow and pack it in for the day. That cycle went on for a long time.

So, in the battle of early mornings versus late nights, early mornings won. The day seems to stretch much further when I get an earlier start. But don’t mistake me for a morning person – that I am not!

You may find it works differently for you, and that’s entirely okay. For me, if I want to get things done, I’ve got to take the day by storm.

Another problem was the need to take breaks. I’m not sure where this was coming from, but after getting home from lunch or a meeting I would often take a break before getting back to work. This would also occur at random times throughout the day.

And, for better or for worse, those quick 30-minute breaks ended up turning into 60- and 90-minute breaks. So much for getting things done, right?

I’m not saying I didn’t need those breaks, as I was quickly becoming burnt out earlier this year, but again in larger part it had to do with not having a solid routine.

Now that regular breaks are built into my routine, I don’t feel the need to take random breaks during the day anymore.

There are still normal interruptions throughout my day, and I don’t always live my routine to a tee but it’s flexible enough to accommodate changes and I can quickly get back on track.

As result:

My emails are now at a manageable level, and I’m starting to get back on track with my project work as well.

After months of feeling overwhelmed and like I’m failing the people who are counting on me, I’m beginning to gain some ground. As you can imagine, that feels good.

The key point is that, overwhelm is often imagined.

When you think about it, overwhelm is impossible, because things don’t come at you in a vacuum.

Overwhelm is impossible, because things don’t come at you in a vacuum. Click To Tweet

We all have those days when it seems like a hundred things are coming at us. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we should be able to see that our inbox only grows by one message, project or to-do item at a time.

And, since we are all human, we can only do one thing at a time. Multitasking isn’t real.

When working on anything, we should commit ourselves to giving it our full attention and if possible, bring it to completion.

Things left unfinished have a way of taking up space in our minds.

So, what did you get out of this?

Will you be creating a new routine for yourself?

Do you see something about overwhelm you never saw before?

I look forward to answering your comments in the show notes.

David Andrew Wiebe

Founder & CEO at The Music Entrepreneur HQ
Musician, serial entrepreneur, digital nomad and bestselling author. Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, production work, session playing and music instruction. He helps musicians like you unlock your full potential. If you'd like to be notified whenever the blog is updated, click here to subscribe.
David Andrew Wiebe

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