Task Management – when does creativity clash with organization?

Task Management – when does creativity clash with organization?

This blog post is almost two days late… I am beyond excuses, and have nothing to say for myself, except that I found myself entirely without the use of my computer this week – and felt horribly and thoroughly lost.  On it, one would find my numerous “to do” lists and the projects-in-progress, as well as the many ideas for blog posts and suggestions my students have sent me over the weeks.  Sometimes (OFTEN), it simply becomes overwhelming.

A great blog post I read today as soon as I was able to use my computer again is located at… http://musiciansway.com/blog/?p=5722.  I’ll let you read it for yourselves, but it brings up an interesting thought at first glance… in order to be creative, stop coming up with new ideas and just apply your current ones.  The article is amusing, and helpful in many ways, but apparently isn’t about that approach afterall.  So I thought I would share from the heart, and the head, at the same time.

As teachers, administrators, business owners, managers, and HR ambassadors, you probably NEVER leave your work in the work building.  And many of us who work at home,… there is no way to separate work and home life completely.  I find myself obsessing regularly over my work, over the lessons I’ve taught that day, over the students who will be coming the next day, over the emails, phone calls, and random sticky notes I have received or written – ones that need following up or a reply.  Work, where there is no rest is exhausting.  And with it, comes burnout.

Back to creativity – how do you manage the balance of creativity, teaching, administrating, and office tasks?  Here is how I do, or try, to the best of my ability (anyone need an assistant’s job? – I’d consider hiring!) to split my days up and prioritize those sections in ways that allow me to focus on teaching when I teach and tasks when I’m not teaching… and family when I’m doing neither… with the understanding that family, which are ultimately the most important, come first.  Of course, with more efficiency and system in the work area, the most time and flexibility with family.  These are ONLY suggestions.  🙂  I’d like to hear how you split up your days, and what tasks you consider most important in each “partitioned” time-frame.  We can all learn from one another.

Morning, before teaching (after breakfast & brushing teeth) = last minute cleaning in the studio, look for music & resources I need, and check emails & phone for last minute cancellations.

During Teaching = smile, make eye contact with students, be pleasant & myself, write detailed notes (for myself) & simple notes (for the student – because we all know how much they actually read the notes anyway)  😉

After Teaching = limit the time spent on the tasks of the evening related to the studio… and make sure dinner, family contact, and relaxation are priorities.  Respond to all the messages you didn’t cover before, build on the lists you’ve been keeping (waiting list, suggestions, creative thoughts, projects, payments, scheduling changes, etc).

Weekly = blog posts, recording projects, returning/sending “non-urgent” emails & phone calls, deep cleaning (disinfect, vacuum, dust, straighten).

Monthly = purchasing needed music, creating and starting those fun little creative projects, connecting with families (sending personalized progress reports & requesting feedback on progress and effort at home).

Above and beyond, be available for families, be proactive with tasks, and be dedicated to the success and individualized lessons for students.  Our jobs are more than anyone will ever realize, unless they stand in your shoes.  You hold the power to influence lives and change the course of many youngsters & adults alike.  When the actual face-to-face time is over for the day, how will you best spend your time to ensure you continue to make a difference in their musical endeavors… in ways that will encourage them in every area of life?

1 Comment
  • Posted at 8:07 pm, August 15, 2011

    Well said… all of it. Never being able to “leave it at the office” is the hardest part of being a music teacher. We already have the trouble as musicians of being able to feel “done” with a piece or a rehearsal or just regular old practice. Add a business to that and it can become overwhelming. Thanks for addressing this tough subject. I’d love to hear what others do.

    My best tip of the year: schedule office hours that are not teaching hours and not “home time”. Even if you have no pressing to do list. Just commit to being in your studio or on your computer. It’s time to think, plan and get creative. Don’t expect it to happen late at night after the days’ tasks are finished. Read a book, or better yet, go to sleep!

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