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In today’s world, ideas come to us more frequently than we go searching for them. How can we avoid letting ourselves go down a rabbit hole whenever we come across the latest and greatest?
Today I wanted to talk to you about something it’s been on my mind in regards to overwhelm. I’ve been thinking about how in the past five years especially, even though we have so much wonderful information and connection online at our fingertips, it’s gotten to the point that it just feels completely overwhelming at times.
I think one of if not THE main reason for this is that we don’t just wait until we need information or inspiration to go to the internet anymore, we let information come to us. Think about 10-15 years ago in the early days of blogs. I remember bookmarking my favorite websites in my internet browser and visiting them once a week to see what was new.
Now, we subscribe to all of our favorite websites not only through email but on social media as well. On top of that, posts of all kinds from Facebook groups we follow feed into our main newsfeed so we see everyone’s struggles and ideas and inspiration come at us even when we’re not necessarily looking for it.
This is practically giving me anxiety thinking about it. So, let’s chat a little more about this today and see if we can’t come up with a little solution.
Welcome to the Piano Pantry Podcast where together we live life as independent music teachers. I’m your host, Amy Chaplin. In this space we talk about all things teacher-life related from organizing our studios to getting dinner on the table and all that comes between. You’ll get loads of easily-actionable tips on organizing and managing your studio while balancing life and home.
Let me first start by saying that what we’re talking about today is somewhat of a double-edged sword (which is probably an expression I’ve used more than once already in this podcast). As we discuss content overwhelm, I first want to acknowledge that it really IS incredibly useful that we can have information come TO us without us always having to go to it and that we can pick and choose who and what we want to follow.
The difficulty simply becomes how to filter what we need in the moment and not feel like we allow every new idea to infiltrate us. How can we avoid letting ourselves go down the rabbit hole every time a we come across the latest, greatest, fun and unique good idea. There will ALWAYS be new and fresh ideas but as humans, we can only have so much capacity for what we can utilize at any given moment.
I have a perfect example for you. Earlier this week, in my mind, I had determined and committed to what my project goals were for my morning hours. My morning work routine generally begins with email – with a goal of it taking less than 30 minutes followed by focused work on whatever my most current project or tasks are.
You can all see where this is going, can’t you – and it all started with that word: EMAIL.
So, I read an email from one of my current content subscriptions which included a 10 minute video. Generally, I don’t watch videos longer than a few minutes during email time but for some reason this morning I determined to just do what I needed or wanted to within each email rather than putting it off. Anyway, of course, the video had an idea for a practice solution to give to students I thought would be fun to incorporate.
I did it – I went down the rabbit hole and and the next thing I knew I was in Canva creating this little sheet to give to my students. 30-45 minutes later I hadn’t finished, at which point it hit me what I had allowed myself to do. I never did finish the project and hence the moral of the story – we must guard ourselves!
While considering a solution for myself to this dilemma, I determined to take inspiration from a old rule my husband and I used to have for ourselves. Back in our earlier years of marriage, we used to say that if we wanted to purchase some thing that was over $100 we had to agree upon it and sit on it. That is, not just purchase it spontaneously. If, after a brief period of time, we determine it was a good idea, then we go forward.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I actually do this sometimes personally with clothing purchases even. If I really like some thing but perhaps it’s more than I would want to spend or if I’m not completely sure if I like an item or not, I walk away. If after a period of time I can’t stop thinking about it, then I know my answer is to purchase.
I have no actual data for this, but would guestimate that 75% of the time I realize the choice to not purchase was the right choice.
So, let’s see if we can apply this principle to content consumption. What if we could make the determination that when ideas come to us (and we’re talking mostly here of course about studio-teaching-related content but we can of course to apply it to anything in life) -so when a new idea comes to us. What if we determined to not necessarily jump into it right away. That is, go ahead and read the whole blog post or email or whatever item you’re getting the information from – but from there determine if we want to say “oh that’s nice and a great idea but I don’t need to go further with that” or if you’re tempted to feel like it’s something you want to implement – what if you waited? Sit on it for a bit.
Maybe determine one location where you want to save some of these potential items for the near future. I’m thinking like choosing one location to save items in such as clipping it into a program like Evernote or bookmarking the link on your Internet browser under a folder titled “Future ideas” or something like that.
In the example I gave earlier regarding the practice tool for my students, the middle of summer is not necessarily the time frame when I would look to introduce new tools like this to my students so I should have just saved the link and then put to resource together when doing my planning for the new school term but hind-sight is 20/20 and that’s why we’re talking about it today.
I think we also have to be careful that we don’t begin just stashing away all of the ideas because then all you do is overload yourself with all of this stuff that you think you should be doing to be better, get better, move forward and yet all we’ve done is created another big checklist.
It’s hard stuff you guys, and I which I could say I had the magic solution to what I’m calling “rabbit-hole syndrome” but what I hope you walk away with today is first and foremost awareness – try to be conscious of how your time is used and notice when rabbit-hold syndrome begins to kick in and second – trying to implement a filter that fits your needs in a way that only let’s in what you need in a useful way.
If this topic speaks to your heart then there’s more where that came from! If you would love to get your digital work landscape under control before the start of the next school year, I’ll be hosting a series of Digital Management Power Hours on Zoom in the month of July 2022. While the main goal is heads-down time with accountability, you’ll also get a bit of coaching from me at the start of each power-hour segment. We’ll be meeting twice a month on Mondays and Wednesdays for 75 minutes from July 6 through August 1. If you’re interested in attending this online event, visit the link in the show notes for more information.
Before you leave today, don’t forget to heat that subscribe button and leave a 5 star rating and review. Find me on social at Amy Chaplin piano on Instagram and on piano pantry on Facebook.
The fun fact I thought I would share with you today is that my first job ever right out of high school was a worship leader at my uncle’s small country church in small burg of Northeast Ohio. The day after graduation, I moved from NE Indiana 3 hours away for the summer. I lived with my aunt and uncle, lead the music at their church and waitressed in an Amish-style comfort food restaurant in Apple Creek, Ohio. My moms family is all around the NE Ohio area – Wooster, Millersburg, Shreve areas. It’s a beautiful part of the state. If you’re listening and you live that that part of the world, let me know! I look forward to connecting with you online. Next week I’ll be back with the next Teacher Talk episode with two wonderful teachers who attended my June Piano Teacher Retreat. Stay tuned!