For the last 6 months, I’ve been living a life that in many ways mimics the challenging scenario many of us face now. Through that time, and in the last 20 years of working as a independent artist, I’ve developed a simple set of disciplines that have allowed me to thrive in the world when working from home by myself.
Today, instead of the usual DJ tools, I want to share a few simple life hacks that can help my fellow creatives in isolation.
A tiny bit of background
For 6 months, I have been living alone in a New York City apartment without anything that must be done each day. I tell people it’s my “semi-retirement”, but at times started to feel like a brutal self experiment.
NYC turns out to be a terrible place to not work, everyone else is busy and it’s a pretty lonely place. These circumstances have left me with a LOT of time in my apartment contemplating how to mange the resulting feelings of isolation, depression, and boredom.
Here are 4 things that helped me and may help others who find themselves in quarantine, social isolation or simply working from home a lot.
Nothing can change until we first accept our present circumstances. Denial or worse – rejection only represses the very real feelings and prevents us from mobilizing. Sit down and accept your circumstances and feelings as they are. This doesn’t mean things should stay that way, but first recognize and allow the way things are NOW.
The absolute best tool I know of to practice this is a mediation technique called RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture) which I use daily. You can learn about it here.
Now that we have accepted the situation, which for most of us looks like 30 days or more in our houses with little or no human contact – how can you take control of the narrative and re-frame it to be of benefit? One example might be that this is the perfect opportunity to write a new album, produce 5 remixes, or deeply hone your DJ craft.
For me personally, I often re-frame isolation into a personal silent mediation retreats or set a challenge to write one new song every day. Choose something you can engage with that provides a challenge and some structure to work with. Rather than something happening to me (quarantine) I have chosen to take advantage of this scenario by teaching djing every day live over the internet which gives me agency and choice.
Without direction and some structure, the day can very quickly turn into a nightmare of endless browsing when isolated and bored. Here is my system that has been a LIFE SAVER and allowed me to build DJ TechTools into what it is today:
I wake up and do the following before looking at any devices:
- 30 minutes of yoga
- 30 minutes of meditation
- Drink lots of water and eat food
- ***Write out all of my tasks and key activities for the day***
The activities sheet (above) and it’s underlining systems keep me on track and provide an external manager for my wandering, attention-challenged mind. This daily document breaks out:
- Critical events, appointments or must do activities
- Everything I want to accomplish in that day
- Activities are then numbered by order that I want to do them (often importance and difficult first)
Now my entire day has a clear roadmap and structure which is easy to follow once I get lost (which always happens). I like to think of this document as my personal manager (me) who dictates the flow of my day early on before I get too distracted by Corona memes. My early morning organized self keeps my impulsive self in check throughout the rest of the day.
Schedule and Protect Key Activities Religiously
Everyone has things which if done regularly can radically shift our mindset under stress. These could include:
- writing one original song
- writing a article
- having a FaceTime call with a dear friend
- meditating for 20 minutes
- DJing for an hour
- dancing for an hour
You get the idea, they are usually creative, fun and not something that anyone is forcing you to do. Identify, schedule and religiously protect your key positive activities. Make sure they happen and don’t let anything get in their way. Make these the BOLD items on your daily activities list.
Want more information for artists? Here is a fantastic list of recourses (financial and social support) that can help those out of work because of corona virus.
Keep in mind please..
There are a lot of very real financial, social, and health consequences happening for many people (including myself) across the world right now. These tools certainly won’t solve any of those problems but hopefully they can make your creative day more manageable and help make the shift from struggling to thriving while working from home.