Are you fed up of trying to get down to producing some masterpiece only to find that 8 hours later you’ve done bugger all? Here are 5 things that can improve your output, all of which sound plain silly but are completely true.
Stare At A Cute Animal Picture To Improve Your Playing
You know all those pictures of cats rolling around in heather and puppies looking to camera with ‘please don’t drown me’ eyes, they help improve our motor skills. Two studies, one from the University of Virginia and the other Hiroshima, both found better performance improvements after staring at pictures of “very cute animals.” If you are struggling to nail those guitar licks, keyboard lines or shortcuts it may be time for you to find a cute animal pic.
Surf When The Sun Shines Work When It Rains
Harvard Business School have published a study that shows when the sun shines we are distracted, but in bad weather our productivity improves. They suggest we should work shorter hours when the sun shines and make them up when it rains. That may explain the prolific musical output from the UK.
No Song Then No Beer
When push comes to shove, we are more likely to avoid loss than try for a benefit.
In other words, if I told you that if you wrote a song by the end of the day you got $100 you may not meet the challenge. However if I told you that it you didn’t finish the song by the end of the day you would lose $100, then you are more likely to do it. So you should set targets on yourself, I do this all the time, I only reward myself with a coffee, lunch, sleep etc. when I’ve hit a milestone - it’s very good for self employed people to manage their time and output.
Multitasking Is Rubbish
It has been said that multi-tasking is the best way to get things done; I’m sure you do it all the time, flick between editing a track and reading your emails. Stanford have conducted one of many studies that show multitasking to be a weakness not a strength. Even more interesting is a study from the University of California that shows that when people turned off their email they were less stressed and got more done. Stress is a creativity killer - if you are in the middle of a great song idea and then you read an email that gets you angry or a Facebook comment that is just plain wrong, I can put money on you not finishing that song that day… if ever.
Sleep And Go Look At Squirrels
Creative types like to work late, party hard and live on Red Bull or other similar substances to improve their senses. However several neurological studies show that the ‘I only need 5 hours sleep’ line isn’t true, lack of sleep suppresses brain activity that control attention, it also affects how you control your emotions. So the next time you find an artist flipping out in a session, it may have more to do with their lack of sleep than them being a genius! Furthermore, not only is sleep good for you but also getting out into nature. The Universities of Utah and Kansas ran a creativity test on two groups, one that went hiking for 4 days and the other before - the group who did the hike scored a 50% higher result than the other group that didn’t go looking at squirrels.
All a little mad you might think, but I’ve done all of these and seen improvements - why not give them a try, if for no one else then do it for the puppies.
You can read all of this and more in detail in the April 2013 edition of Inc.