I played a lot as a child. Talked in my sleep and to be honest nothing has changed much except of course the talk in my sleep part. I have just become an overly hyperactive grown up.
Friends, in the past, have insinuated that I’m possibly one of those kids who got off with ADHD undetected – but as far as I am concerned, I come nothing as close. I just see myself as a bit of a wondrous spirit who gets a kick out of doing things. It’s probably why I often get asked the question ‘What are you working on now?’ because I am always working on something.
It also doesn’t help that in this media and creative business one cannot live by one hustle alone. I think the ‘Oyibo’ term for it is ‘interdisciplinary’. I’m a big believer that you can be a Jack or Jill of many trades and it is also possible to be a master of many even if you cant be a master of all. The truth is we are all different and we work differently but here are just a few of the principles I practice to stay on top of my speedy brain.
Friends That Get It
My friend Nkiru says that I talk at a hundred words per second even though I think that’s a tad bit of an exaggeration. I agree that I am a fast talker. It’s because my mouth is trying to keep up with the speed of my brain. The point is I am always in a perpetual state of thinking and ideation and God bless my friends, they get it. I have a few friends that help me mind map, help me calm down and prioritise the work that is important when I start having too many brain waves. Sometimes they even help me find the gem in some ideas
They keep it real when they know the others aren’t going to amount to very much. It does get that bad. Sometimes my friend Anwuli and I have meetings over these things and I do the same for her. So yes, you may need some help with prioritising as well as an outsiders perspective to help inject some sense of reality. I will add though, they must be friends that mean well and really enjoy seeing you grow. In fact, the kinds that will call and say ‘you have been a bit quiet lately what’s been going on’. Those that would hound you about the things you talked about when they notice you are slacking.
Project Management & Time Management
Now this, I was told by my long time mentor and friend Amanda King who was as my radio tutor at University. Once she noticed the kind of person I was, she told me to categorise all the things I wanted to do as projects. Arrange them in development stages and give them a time line and I have never strayed away from that. It’s how I was able to record and release my spoken word album last year; also, the documentary Sensitive Skin this year. It’s how I am able to write, blog, perform, market products online, host seminars and workshops, still keep a semi-full time job, attempt to have a life on the weekends and oh yess.. sleep.
I live a very routine life where I wake up at 6am and in bed at latest midnight. Ok so maybe I don’t quite get my 8 hours sleep but a little sacrifice goes a long way.
Everything that you want to do has to be allocated its own time, which means you may not be able to do other kinds of work because you have a focus point with a time line. It also helps you plan for future projects as well. In this case a spreadsheet or calendar is definitely your best friend.
A lot of us creative people can come off as a little controlling and sometimes egotistical but the truth is a lot of the best works are collaborative. Beyond the fact that you get things done faster, I personally find that ideas are more achievable and even better rounded. A friend of mine says that when he is collaborating, he doesn’t believe in a fifty-fifty format. He believes that all collaborators should be able to get a hundred percent out of it.
Let me explain. Everyone has what it is they are bringing to the table and that shouldn’t be tampered or interfered with. However I do think that for that to work, everyone needs to feel a sense of ownership of the work as opposed to feeling like they are being used to bring your own dreams to life. So it is important to ask what they hope to get out of it so that there is a clear set of expectations and a decision can be made as to what can and cannot be fulfilled. Making collaborators feel like co-owners of the work even though you aren’t the originator of the idea is crucial. I think when you find good collaborators who not only share the vision but also share your values, its something special. They aren’t just working with you but they are also spurring you on.
Be Satisfied With What You Achieve and Learn to Let Go
Maybe what I should really be saying is that you may never be satisfied with what you achieve because you always think it could be bigger or you could do it better. However, I think it is ok to give yourself a pat on the back that you tried. You started something. Try to enjoy the moment, take the lessons and if it isn’t working move on to the next task.
Learn to say ‘NO’
I remember talking to a male friend of mine who seemed to be propositioned by a lot of women. I asked him why, compared to other guys I knew, he never took advantage of the advances. At the risk of sounding crude, he told me that just because there is free booty everywhere doesn’t mean you should take it. I get approached with opportunities with or without financial incentives and I still struggle with the ‘N’ word.
Sometimes I get caught up in the whole this is an exciting opportunity thing and at other times the fear that if I keep rejecting these opportunities to work on this project, when another one comes up, they will go somewhere else. So being able to say ‘No’ is a legitimate struggle but if you don’t learn it, you will burn out, miss deadlines, disappoint people, produce substandard work and all of that is just counterproductive.
You need to strike a balance. As I often say to my friends. Identify your commercial pursuits as bills don’t pay themselves and identify your artistic pursuits. Please beware of vampire jobs. I’m sure everyone has taken on that gig that sucks the life out of you and you wonder if it was worth any of the hassle in the end all because you were caught up in the ideal of it all.
Those are vampire jobs.
Forget Intimidation, Just Do It
Just because you haven’t been doing something for ten or twenty years doesn’t mean you can’t do it as well. Yes experience cannot be overrated but I think if you are enthusiastic enough about something, you are willing to learn and put the required work in, I don’t see why you shouldn’t have a go at least. As I always say, our destinies are different. Just because you don’t have a masters degree in something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a go at something you might like or enjoy. You never know, you might actually be really good at it if you submit yourself to the process. Never let your lack of experience or a limited background intimidate you.
Let it Stay a Hobby
I love to cook and I’m actually really good at making hair but I won’t be opening a restaurant or hair salon anytime soon. Well because it is too much work that requires a lot of time, focus and concentration, for now I stick to brunch parties for my friends and the odd hair do for a friend to satisfy those itches.
Life in itself is a constant balancing act. So you plan what it is you can, give it your best shot, make sure you reflect on the lessons and just keep it moving.