This episode is sponsored by Petra Kolb
I know that each of us has much to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the tasks we face. But if we keep our priorities in order, we can accomplish all that we should. We can endure to the end regardless of temptations, problems, and challenges. Joseph B. Wirthlin Unquote
I’m getting pretty close to the release dates with these shows. This one was recorded last Saturday, as I’ve been swamped by this latest short film of mine, The Traveller. All is going well though and I know even at this point that the crowd funder has reached its goal, so we are storming ahead. Even with all that’s going on though I still wouldn’t want to disappoint you by dropping a show so here I am today with a topic that I think you’ll find kinda interesting. In last week’s show though I covered a topic that’s little discussed but if you can’t recognise that it’s in place and potentially create strategies to deal with it, then you may have a problem. It’s all about Gatekeepers and it’s available to listen to right now.
Who says I can't handle it? I can handle it," said Gregor obviously not handling it. Suzanne Collins, Gregor the Overlander Collection: Unquote
In telecommunications terms, bandwidth is the volume of information that can be sent from one connection to another in a set amount of time — which is calculated in Mbps (megabits per second). Bandwidth is an important factor when it comes to determining the quality and speed of a network or internet connection. I’m talking today about bandwidth, not in the sense of telecoms or internet speeds but instead in our ability to deal with stuff. From everyday, day-to-day stuff, to work stuff to family stuff and every little stress worry and concern in between. Sometimes new problems can come so thick and fast that they become like a stress-inducing white noise, and you have to tune in and out to one thing at a time in order to get passed them. Life often doesn’t make this easy for you of course.
Confucius says Keep it simple and focus on what matters. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed.
I’m working on this short film as I say, but it’s a low budget and that inevitably means that as I am the instigator of the project, I have to tackle every task that’s not dealt with by someone else, and still drive it forward – and this leads to a LOT of tasks. I have people helping me, but often things can’t proceed without my involvement. The trouble is, of course, that being in the middle of it all, people want to talk to me about the stuff that matters most to their department at the most inopportune times. If I’ve spent 9 straight hours working on risk assessments and I get a call about an element of the film that needs my attention, I have to switch my headspace around and deal with that issue and sometimes I’ll have several new questions or problems raised by several different people simultaneously when I’m already doing risk assessments, negotiating for a location, worrying about the fact I’ve 10 props to find or make and trying to pin down the insurance, and at that point, it starts to feel like white noise and I can easily get overwhelmed. Tuning in to each problem needs to be done separately and I have to bring order to the chaos by tuning in to one thing at a time in order of importance to bring it all back under control. That control holds for a bit before something new then comes in to overwhelm my bandwidth.
On this short film I’m doing Neil the DOP mentioned to me the other day that I had reached a point of task saturation and I couldn’t disagree with him. Task saturation is defined as the perception or the reality of having too much to do and not having enough time, tools or resources to get them accomplished. In order to stay productive, you must figure out what's most important, stay focused on what matters and create time to be creative. He brought this up well after I’d started on this episode, so it’s perhaps an opportune moment to address it. I’ll do a show on the specific difficulties of being lead producer director and writer on a film production sometime soon, and perhaps another one on task saturation but for now let me get back to bandwidth.
When you feel your bandwidth stretching out with your control there are a few things just off the top of my head here, that you can do to get back to grips with it.
Prioritize things – not everything is urgent. Things can be important but not urgent, urgent but not important, not important but urgent and or not important and not urgent. If you have trouble figuring this out, I’d suggest you go back and listen to my recent episode entitled The Focus Funnel.
Another thing is, if you are getting bombarded with new information and requests, don’t feel you need to respond to everything immediately. It’s usually fine to finish what you are doing unless someone is flagging that the response is urgent, and get to the next problem once the first issue has been dealt with.
Write things down – and I’m forever going on about this but you are 42% more likely to get stuff done if you write things down. I won’t go on about this again but it’s pretty essential. And only I’d add that perhaps checklists may also be of assistance if you are frightened of making mistakes.
Don’t be a perfectionist – most of the time, good enough is enough and always remember that done is better than perfect.
Delegate – If you don’t have to do it yourself, palm it off onto someone you trust, and if it’s not someone you trust, treat it as a holiday from that problem. Often times a problem will come back to me after a week or more, incomplete, sometimes not even started or just generally fucked up. That time away from the problem is helpful though as it’s a nice holiday from it that allows you to do other things.
Don’t let the stresses of overwhelm bring you down. The more down you are the less able you are to cope with new things and when those new things are coming thick and fast you might short-circuit, say something you shouldn’t or just throw in the towel. In the creative world, there’s usually no blueprint to what we are doing, so it’s really hard to get stuff done. Don’t let it bring you down.
Take a break. Sometimes I just need 10 minutes to sort my thoughts out and get myself together to get back on track. Taking a break will often get you back in tune and bump you out of the feeling that things are getting on top of you.
If you feel that you’ve come going out of tune and all you hear is white noise, then these tips might work, but reducing the amount of information getting to you could help. Switch off any apps that bother you, put your phone on silent, and come off social media. All of these things will help you to stay in tune with what’s important and gain you more time to focus on the stuff that matters.
Prepare – if you know you have a busy period coming up. Get on top of whatever you can early. That way when all the parts start moving nearer the time you don’t have to deal with simple things you could have and should have done days or weeks before.
When switching between tasks, or channels as I say in this analogy – give yourself a 10-minute tuning-in period. This will help you to stay on top.
This analogy stretches out further but I’ll leave it there for now as I’m up to my neck in it - I do hope that you find what you have heard today interesting.
A favourite quote of mine to end this section - The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one. Mark Twain Unquote
So, I’ll leave it at that and won't hit you with a Call To Action today. I only hope that if you find yourself in the situation I have outlined here that these few nuggets of advice will help you to extract yourself from it.
Thanks to everyone who committed to my Crowdfunder for The Traveller by the way. We exceeded our target and met two further stretch goals. For anyone that’s interested, I’ll do a special report episode in a couple of weeks’ time. Next week’s show will happen provided I don’t get entirely swamped by filming by the way. I am not guaranteeing it but if it doesn’t happen season 10 will continue with the final three shows starting the week after.
I’ll end today with some words about task saturation from Indra Devi who said
Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.
Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!
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