I’m in Washington DC for a work meeting, and although I was primarily interacting with, learning with, and having fun with teachers from around our national network, I also had some brief jaunts out onto Capitol Hill. This will be repeats for you if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, but here’s a handful of images that caught my fancy…

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Playing at Work in DC

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Out of Touch With Self

out_of_touch_with_selfI’ve felt like I’ve been spinning lately. My brain is going a thousand miles an hour most of the day and night, and thoughts about work, in particular, are jumping around up there and bouncing up and down on the relentless treadmill. This happens from time to time with me, but it’s usually not this bad. There’s been more going on at work than usual, but there’s something else at play.

I’m not staying in the moment. I’m spending my time thinking about what needs to happen next and worrying about what’s already past. What’s right in front of me slips away and sometimes becomes one more thing that I didn’t get done. When this is happening I also don’t eat regularly, I sleep even less than usual (which is not much), and perhaps most importantly, I’m not having any fun.

So yes, I know what I need to do: stay in the moment, have more fun. But how?

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Practicing Play, Playing to Practice

playing_to_practiceToday I was presented with an interesting challenge which led to a possible epiphany. One of my mostly “online friends,” Kevin Hodgson, wrote a song last night, and today, asked if I was interested in coming up with some horn lines for it. It was a completely no pressure situation, but immediately the perfectionist in me started to come up with all kinds of excuses not to do it: I’m rusty; it’s not my style; it’s been a long time since I wrote anything; what about what I planned to practice?; etc. etc. etc. But since I’m working on getting my musical side going and working on not caring so much what others think, I said Sure, why not?

I had heard the song once or twice and started coming up with ideas in my head while I went about my day. Kevin sent the audio file and I figured I would use my “built in” #nerdlution practice time to work on it. When I got my horn out though, I was presented with an old road block. I was reluctant to work on the horn lines for Kevin’s song—something that seemed fun and interesting—because I felt like I should work on my fundamentals and technique. Right away I saw that doing the fun part, writing some horn lines and playing them, contributed to my goal of getting my trumpet chops in shape, while giving me an opportunity to work on other aspects of music.

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Learn to Wake Up

“Nap time” hits and you’re sleepy as hell. You know what I’m talking about. It’s a Thursday or Friday afternoon, you have five different projects you’re juggling at work, some monotonous, some complicated. You’re overwhelmed, and the summer sun is beating down outside as the concrete and asphalt begin to release the stored heat from the day. Yeah, NAP TIME.

If you’re like me though, you’re not the guy who’s going to lay down and call it. There’s work to be done, there’s a couple hours left till the weekend, and you handle your responsibilities. And in these situations, coffee just doesn’t seem to cut it. You know what does: BRAIN ACTIVITY. Something to really get your juices flowing. Something challenging, something creative. Something you’re actually curious about.

When I have an interesting problem to solve, something new to learn, or a need to look at something in a new light, I can rouse myself from these afternoon sleepies and not only be productive, but be engaged, and, consequently, wake the hell up. You’d be surprised what a little learning/playtime can do for your productivity in “real” work, no matter what you do.

It’s important. It’s fun. It’s good for you. It helps you be a better person. It’s good for all humanity.

You with me?

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