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February 5, 2006
Want To Stay Productive – Then Stay Organized!
By Jay Cascio

There’s just no way you’re going to accomplish anything in your career if you live in a constant mess.

I’m not giving names here, but I know quite a few slobs in the world that live in total clutter. I’ve visited many a house where loose notes/paperwork, dirty laundry and indescribable foreign objects were strewn about.

Ever see a cereal bowl that’s stuck to the coffee table?
I have.

Ever walk into an apartment that was smelly enough to clear your sinuses?
I have.

Ever see a fuzzy creature crawl out of a toilet bowl in a house that claimed to have no pets?
I have.

Sadly, many of these acquaintances are part of the musician community. And I can tell you that every one of these individuals was so overwhelmed with responsibilities to their band that they never caught up. Ideals and plans were never accomplished. New songs were never written. Many of these bands broke up. Why? Because the disorganization of their personal lives interfered with their professional lives.

The message here: Clean up your damn apartment!

Or clean your house, or – if you’re still living at home – clean up your room!  It’s simple.

When the space you live in is clean and organized, it’s just that much easier to get things done outside of it. Your head is clear. You’re not fretting about that pile of lyrics you’ve been procrastinating about completing.  Your notes are organized, and you find yourself arriving at band practice a half hour earlier ahead of the rest of the band.

I mean, think about it. When you come home to a messy house/apartment/room, isn’t it miserable? You just look at it and say, “Ugh, OK, I’m cleaning this place up by tomorrow.” But you never do. You grab a bag of chips (or carrots for you health-conscious folk), turn on the TV, and drown out your misery with the latest reality crap on the tube. A messy space is depressing to look at, and the depression contributes to laziness. You keep putting off the housecleaning, hence extending your misery. Your misery interferes with your inspiration, and not only do you lack the interest to complete some lyrics or work on a guitar riff, you start lacking the interest to go the band practice.

What’s your escape? Odds are, your way out of your mess is a self-imposed promise that you’ll tidy up by the weekend and start a whole new life next week. It’s the same mentality out-of-shape people possess: “I’ll begin anew starting Monday.”

And you never do. Next Monday turns into next month. Next thing you know, it’s eight months later, and now the motto has turned into “next year.”

You’ve wasted a lot of time simply because you couldn’t discipline yourself to put your dishes in the sink (then wash them); put your dirty clothes in the hamper; organize the ton of papers/ideas on your desk; catch up on some overdue bills; vacuum that rug; fix that hole in your wall; scrub your bathroom; hang up your clean clothes….

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

No one is accusing you of being a pig by nature, but I’m sure by now you don’t appreciate the lack of visitors to your pad. If you’re constantly making plans with friends that involve YOU to do the traveling, it means your clutter is affecting your personal life and no one wants to hang out in your stinky pad.

And now you’re misery is at an all time high.

How do you fix this?

Clean your place up.  Day One of “operation scrub-and-dump” will take some time and involve some heavy sweat. You’ll become even more depressed at the realization that the cleanup is overwhelming. But guess what? There is light at the end of the tunnel…

After the dishes are done, and laundry is folded and put away, and you’ve organized all your notes into one book or binder, you’ll feel like a two-ton-rhino (hehe) was just lifted off your chest. You’ll feel like Superman. You’ll feel like the sky’s the limit. You’ll feel like showing up for band practice a half hour earlier. Hell, you’ll probably have practiced some at your place before you met up with your bandmates, simply because you were inspired to be ahead of the days’ game plan.

And all this was possible because you’ve decided to clean up your digs.

Like the advice but cringe at the idea of getting started? Ok, instead of trying to combat the dirt and cockroaches in one day, spread out your battle plan over the course of one week. Knock out the mess in the kitchen on Monday. Hit the Laundromat on Tuesday. Scrub the bathroom on Wednesday (it’s a small room, you can do it!). Sure, you’re probably working or going to school during the week, but you can make the time. Knock it all out. Take it all one day at a time. This way, when Saturday or Sunday rolls around, you can take the 2 or 3 hours you need to bang out all that paperwork sitting on your desk.

That’s all is. One week (if not one day).

When the smoke is clear and the FaBreeze has settled, you’ll feel better. You’ll feel like you can take on the world. You’ll feel like completing some songs – and that, my fellow musician, goes a long way. When you’re on your game in the studio, it’ll only inspire the musicians around you to increase productivity. Next thing you know, five new songs are written and the band is booked every weekend for the next few months.

And to think, all you had to do was clean your room!

And now – you’re ready to organize your life.

So go and work on that new riff you’ve been hearing in your head!

© 2006 Jay Cascio


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