Recording States of Mind

I’ve always been one for keeping lists and writing down anything and everything that comes to mind for fear of forgetting about them a moment later.  In the past when I worked at an office, at the end of the day I would write down everything that I was working on or had to work on the following day.  Then when I left work, I could free up my mind from anything having to do with work and the following day I could review my notes and quickly return to where I was and get to working.

This is a very “Getting Things Done” (GTD) thing to do, to get the tasks one has to do out from the mind and into a trusted system, but instead of recording tasks I need I find the act of writing down these notes as a record of my state of mind. I’ve found that this facilitated both emptying the mind after each day’s work as well as being able to return to where I left off very quickly the next time I was at work.

Only recently have I been doing this kind of note taking at the end of my work sessions on my different personal projects and I have found it incredibly helpful in the same ways as it did for my work life, but in an even more valuable way as it is my personal work. Today I was very excited to be able to review my notes from my last work session on my piece and with only enough mental energy to focus for a short amount of time (15 minutes), I was able to almost fall exactly back where I was last working and accomplish a lot in that time.  (I am remind of Feldman always doing a “day’s work”, whatever that was for that day, and certainly today feel that a “day’s work” was done.)

With so many different projects going on it was always a trick to get sort everything out in my head. Reusing this technique of writing notes at the end of work sessions to other areas of my life has already yielded benefit and I will be looking forward to experimenting with this for all of the projects I am working on.

A Little Each Day

The past few weeks has been very rewarding for me musically as I’ve come to get into the habit of working on my piece just a little each day. I’ve been working between 20-30 minutes in the evening, usually listening or reviewing work and making small progress each time. At the end of each session I’ve been rendering to WAV/MP3 and listening during the following day while working or while out and about. I have to say that I haven’t been able to do this every day but more often than not, but doing just this bit of work and tapping into the creative musical work each time keeps it all very fresh and in the ear. Doing just this has made it easier to start working on the piece during each work session as the music is still on my mind. I’ve also gotten into the habit of writing much more descriptive log entries when committing my work to the Mercurial repository so that I can review where I left off from my last work session and very quickly get back to where I was (a habit of mine from end of day at work, writing down what I needed to do the next day so I could have it quick to recall the next day).

Finding a way to live where I could be working on music more is still on my mind, but this way of working and keeping notes has really been beneficial and I’m quite happy with how it is working out. There is certainly much more work to be done to strengthen my focus while working, but for now I am happy with the progress being made daily. My tai-chi teacher has a few times discussed the value of tapping into our tai-chi daily, sharing the wisdom of it being like adding a sheet of time to a stack and how each individual sheet is not much but over time stacks up to be quite a lot. (A story he was told by his teacher, and I believe by his teacher before him.) As true as it is for tai-chi, I am finding the truth of it now in my own musical and personal work.