Many performers depend on muscle memory: dancers, musicians and certainly magicians.
They have to practice the moves again and again until they can do them automatically, without thinking. This gives them confidence when they are distracted and freedom to focus on the audience and the prevailing conditions.
However, when the unexpected happens, a magician has to be ready to adapt on the spur of the moment. Maybe they will have an alternative ending to the trick up their sleeve. Maybe they will have another trick on standby, just in case. Once the unexpected is dealt with, they can return to their normal routine and the audience will be none the wiser.
Rinse and Repeat, Avoid Defeat
The same is true in life and work. There is immense value in developing habits and routines that then get hard-baked into your mind. They become your muscle memory, your auto-pilot to carry you through when you get distracted, they will allow you to continue to get important things done whilst allowing you the freedom to focus on those around you and the prevailing conditions.
However, when the unexpected happens, eg, a lockdown, you may need to flex some of your routines.
But, whatever you do, don’t get rid of them all. They are too valuable for that.
Be Like Grass, Not a Tree
In a strong wind, long grass bends for a while and then returns to upright. A rigid tree risks being blown over. Flex like grass, don’t be rigid like a tree.
Have a think about your habits and routines. Which ones can you continue through the lockdown? Which ones could continue in a modified way?
Pre-lockdown, my morning routine was:
Put the coffee in the cafétiere
7 minute workout in the front room while the coffee brews
Plunge the coffee
Get changed into walking clothes
Do my bullet-point journal and triage emails and to-do list
Walk the dog Have breakfast
Change into smarter clothes and go to the library to write for an hour or two
Home for lunch
Since then lockdown, most of it has continued, although I can no longer go the library. I have had to flex that bit of my routine but I still write at the same time each day, I just pretend that my front room is the library. It is fine as long as get there early enough, before our teenagers colonise it for their own screen-based activities! I will write more about the usefulness of different locations in my next post.
What parts of your life/ work routine can carry on and what parts can be adapted?
Think about how you can adapt your existing tricks and routines for your new performing environment.