Energy Over Time, Always
We are creatures of habits, and almost every habit in our world is based around time.
What time will you wake up tomorrow? What time do you have to be to work? What time are you going to lunch? How much time does it take to get a task done? If there's no traffic, how long does it take to get from A to B?
In interviews, when interviewees are questioned about personal flaws, their response is often a variation of, "Procrastination" or "Poor Time Management Skills."
In the most gracious way possible, I'm calling BS. It's not about managing time, it's about managing energy. I promise this concept is backed up by smart people that aren't hippy artsy gypsies. Ask the Google.
Here's a personal music-y example:
For the past two years, I've been wanting to seriously pursue many music-related ventures. Mostly, I wanted to write and record an EP. 5 songs. That's not so hard, right? Wrong. I couldn't do it.
I spent those two years dabbling in writing, posting cover videos here and there. I did regular gigs, and this most recent summer I gigged like my life depended on it. At first, playing other artists' music gave me energy and motivated me. Plus, I needed to get better at live performing. But somewhere along the way, the gigs started to feel empty. Nothing was wrong with the venues, and I hadn't developed a dislike for music. It was simply that I no longer had the energy to create the music I wanted to create. Even if I had hours of spare time after a gig, my energy was gone, so I wasted my time.
Eventually, I cut out all my gigs. But I still felt exhausted. My energy was still absent.
So I took a week off work and bought a bunch of concert tickets to learn from an incredibly polished singer-songwriter and his band while they performed along the west coast of this great country. I saw six shows in eight days, and I put 4,237 miles on my car. Each show filled me with more life and energy than I had experienced in years. I spent 82 hours and 29 minutes just in drive time, and I never once felt as though my energy was low. Even when I returned after driving 26 straight hours without sleep, I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to write. I wanted to plan.
I then took a long course in dream management. I continued to write. I continued to plan. The only change: I started to sleep. Getting enough sleep helps me utilize the energy I do have. Who'da thunk?
Then, yesterday evening, I saw a concert in the Twin Cities. I'd seen this musician before, and I remembered him having an uncanny ability to connect his music to the audience in such a natural, comfortable way. So after working all day, I drove 3.5 hours there, saw a 2-hour concert, and immediately drove 3.5 hours home. This didn't exhaust me. It was a fun, energizing experience! Here's a photo because "pics or it didn't happen"
On the drive home from the concert, I decided I want to write a book to capture my experiences in a narrative way that my songs will never be able to do. When I walked into my apartment, I put my leftover cheese from my delicious cheese trio in the fridge, and I opened my laptop. I wrote a novel outline. I wrote an intro. I started chapter 1. I am tired, but I am not exhausted.
I made a Facebook post stating I would talk about the concert experience in a blog, so even though it's 4:45AM, here I am. This blog is contributing to the validity of my website, which is contributing to my artist persona. Even if no one on Facebook cares that I promised to deliver a blog post, I still promised to deliver it. And that gives me positive energy.
I am tired. I am ready for bed. But I am not exhausted. My batteries are still working.
For me, live cover gigging became an energy drainer (for now). Lack of sleep is an energy drainer (tomorrow will be rough). Unnecessary conversations with negative people are energy drainers. Negative thoughts, words, and actions are energy drainers.
So my advice: If you have any energy drainers that you have control over right now, try to eliminate them. See if you feel better. Give it a whirl. Go crazy. Nighty-night!