How To Do Your Best Work

“Caution: This music was composed while wearing pyjamas.”
– the disclaimer that should appear on all my scores

The way I see it, there are basically two kinds of work we all do on a daily basis. Creating, and editing.

You create something by mixing old ideas together to produce something new. This could mean thinking up a business proposal, dreaming up new music, or making plans for your next vacation. They are decisions made in broad terms that lay the guidelines for the work to follow.

Editing is taking the great ideas you have and refining them. This is correcting spelling mistakes, or making the call to book the rental car. After roughing out the broad shape, good editing will make sure a great idea stays great. This is the grind of the details, and accuracy counts.

To me, creating is far scarier than editing. It’s also impossible to rely on editing to save a bad idea. (You can’t put ice cream on horse manure and call it good.) Therefore it is much more important to create with your best focus. The core message must be clear before anything amazing can be brought out of it in the editing stage.

Because this is true, I think your highest energy should be spent on the creating side. That’s the last chance you have to make your idea better.

So this leads me to pyjamas. I’m an early morning composer, because the hours before 7:30 or so are the highest quality hours I have. They are usually free from interruption, and free from the baggage the rest of the day will bring. That’s currently my sweet spot!

Find your time, and DO the work. Create something.

What time of day do you do your best work?

ps – If you are doing a creative project and need a harder kick in the pants, read Do the Work, by Steven Pressfield. It helped me!

2 thoughts on “How To Do Your Best Work”

  1. Hey David,

    I’m in the same boat as you. I wake at 5am, hit the coffee shop by 6am and then work on composing until about 7:45am. I then go to my day job at 8am. If I don’t get the time in then, I know I’m not going to get it later.

  2. Thanks for the comment, John.

    Nice to hear about what works for you. I also find that once the habit is there, it’s hard to think about starting your day any other way. That helps me with discipline. And my “coffee shop” is usually a brew sipped in my home office. :)

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