The last week of December and the first week in January are some of my favorite times of the year. The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve helps rejuvenate me and the first week of January brings a lot of new possibilities. If you weren’t thrilled with the first part of the program/academic year, now is a great time to make some changes. Or perhaps the first part of the year went well. It’s a great time to make some tweaks to make this second half even better. It’s also a great time to re-connect with your “why”. I wrote about that in this blog post:
In past years, I spent a good amount of time setting goals for the new year using a variety of systems that didn’t always work for me. Instead in 2022, I’m trying something different by leaning more into habits and systems. One of my new favorite books is Atomic Habits by James Clear. In it, he has a quote that has given me a lot of food for thought. “We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems.” I was both humbled and encouraged at the same time.
For my Adult Chancel Choir, music distribution and collection is sometimes clunky or frustrating. It dawned on me that perhaps the system is not the most effective. I resolved to develop a much better system so on January 2 after worship, I had a short meeting with a few choir members who were interested in serving as choir librarians. As a result of a productive and collaborative discussion, we started to develop a system that we think will work. A win-win situation: volunteers felt empowered and I could delegate more than I had anticipated. What systems do you have that need a change or an overhaul?
In addition to yearly goal setting systems that didn’t always work for me, I’ve tried many weekly to do list systems that haven’t always worked for me. Except one. This may not work for everyone, but it’s helped me. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who I heard this from, otherwise I’d give them credit.
After Thanksgiving 2021, I knew I needed to get a handle on my work load. I remembered that I had learned about the following system a few years ago and decided to try it for December 2021. I discovered that I was able to prioritize better and accomplish tasks when they needed to be done. I felt that I had more control over my priorities. The first time I tried this, it was time intensive, but the more I did it, the faster the process became.
- On a Sunday evening or Monday morning, write down everything you need to do at work in no particular order for the upcoming week. This should be a brain dump to get everything on paper.
- Once you’ve done that, write which day you’ll focus on each task in one of the margins.
- Next, approximate how long each task will take.
- On a separate sheet of paper, write a specific schedule of when you’ll do each task. Or schedule everything on your phone.
- Rip up the original list with the brain dump.
Some of you may think “Wow! This is amazing! I’m going to do this today.” Others may be skeptical and think “That feels like way too much work.” To be honest, I wasn’t able to stick to the schedule perfectly. Interruptions occurred, certain tasks took longer or shorter than expected, and there were additional projects I needed to add to the schedule. Sometimes a task moved to another day. However, I was able to accomplish what I needed to in a given week. This system has provided some necessary discipline for me and it has given me a more realistic picture of my workload.If any of you try this, I would love to hear if it works for you!
Especially with the Omicron variant spreading very rapidly, I may need to rethink some of my anthem choices for January and February. Anthem selection will most definitely be a top priority this week. However, I thought I would share two pieces I’m particularly excited about.
Trust in the Lord arr. Rollo Dilworth. While it’s listed as SATB, the voicing is mostly SAB. I find that the structure of the piece makes it a joy to teach. The first three sections contain very distinct melodies that are combined for the final section. I appreciate that we can see the score in this YouTube video. On the other hand, I do not think that the demo choir was stylistically appropriate on the rendition in my opinion.
Appassionata by Michael W. Joy. 3 – 6 octaves handbells, Level 3. I appreciate the varied tempos and dynamics in this piece. It makes for an emotional experience where ensemble members can focus on expressive ringing.
A very Happy New Year to you! May you build on habits and systems that will help you enable transformational experiences in your ensembles.