I guess being able to finally admit that I can only focus on one thing at a time, is a revelation. The confusion probably stems from distraction — I’d get distracted and get an idea and want to work on that idea.

Now I know that the distraction is not really me being able to multi-task. Multitask in a way that I’d be able to work on three pieces simultaneously. I’m so sensitive that I’d usually have silence instead of a piece of music playing in the background.

Here are things that have made it easier for me:

1.) Use earplugs when necessary

Sometimes I’d have the energy and be all ready to work on a piece and one of the neighbors would power up something loud. I find it easier to lie to myself and go: ‘ah…I’ll just work on it later’ and toddle off to do something else away from the noise.

2.) Exercise focus by meditating regularly

When in the zone, I do know it is possible to tune out a lot of things. While my ‘focus muscle’ strengthens, I am able to use that as a cover if I don’t have the luxury of hearing attenuation (like catching up in a busy cafe and focusing on my conversation partner).

3.) Distractions are precious

(This only applies when I’m not driving.)

If I am traveling and find opportunities to connect with someone nearby, I’d do it. Thankfully, I’m not that fed up with the world that I’d want to block it by putting earbuds to dissuade other people from coming up to me and saying hi.

Another upside of having a rule of not blasting music (over earbuds or headphones) while being out and about as a pedestrian: there is a lower chance that I’d be so distracted (by my thoughts and amplified by the music I’m listening to) that I’d walk straight into traffic, or assume that a corner is clear instead of taking a second to look both sides.

4.) Trust that those ideas would find you eventually

It does get overwhelming whenever the floodgates of ideas open really widely. I’d be struggling to keep up writing one idea then another idea would pop up. I eventually move on when I notice that I’m just writing ideas rather than implementing them.

I’m going to use another driving example because I sometimes get all sorts of ideas while driving. One thing I’ve done is loaded up all the recordings I did of the Pod Farm presets available for the UX1 and put in a CD so I could listen to it while driving. Usually I’d get inspiration for new tracks, and note them for the next album.

I find that the more I embrace my ‘one at a time’ brain…the more rich my connections become.


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  • Leigh Lim

    Thrive Global Contibutor

    Leigh is a Sydney composer helping brands accelerate their influence. When she is not doing that, she can be found pondering story ideas for a music discovery project.