What you are describing is an extremely common thing for a lot of people. However there are many people who get things done too. There are as many such methodologies as there are people.
In my experience, and I am pretty chilled with my personal life and work success, it all boils down to what you really want and feel truly worthy in your lifespan. That means you have to prioritize and experiment and take plunges and risks, but one thing is for certain, lapsing on discipline is going to be a killer for everything, ones health, ones productivity and ones ambitions.
Like a science experiment, if you always getting the answer you are comfortable with or what you expect, then you are nowhere near the edge at all. Keep this mind.
Taking health as an instance, DISCIPLINE, is what actually saves you. Regular brushing and flossing, regular exercise, regular and periodic relaxation, regular and deep uninterrupted sleep, healthy eating and regular intake of vegetables and so on.
It is a well known productivity research nugget by now that doing something daily is exponentially more beneficial than doing something once in a blue moon or very sporadically.
The Japanese have developed a mental technique of doing something you would like to engage in for just a minute. Whatever time that is taken after that minute is a bonus for the day. Going by that hack, you are freed of any time bound expectation and you go in mentally thinking that only a minute is something you can certainly cope with or expend with; this results in a chain reaction and you add the next minute without conscious thought. Then the next and so on. Very soon, 30 minutes have gone by. But your process is that you acknowledge your time investment and then again freely decide to continue for another minute and as you get engrossed in that process you take an hour, 2 hours. After 2 hours or so, or for that matter even 45 minutes, your back or hips might pain and a short break is always recommended. After the short break, do the thing again or just do something else as you want to prioritize or round robin schedule. This works very well for me, I live in Asia, and such ethics make sense to me as to why and how its done by the local mindset, and I have incorporated this style of working in my daily life with very good returns, I highly recommend this.
Pomodoro is another one but I hate having a timer telling me what to do, seriously. So while in theory it works, its just a stupid alarm system in my mind. I rather prefer to be interrupted on my own not in the middle of something and then the alarm just goes of…irritating, I don’t recommend this but for some folks that sense of urgency and finishing within the alarm time range might just be the thing you need. Experiment.
Taking cues from all this and coming back to music. Music is one thing that if you don’t do it every single day of your life, you will never understand it enough to be good at it or have nimble fingers or a nimble mind to process all that information, regardless of how well known or talented you are. The best of the crows have consistently invested hours and hours of practice time and study time.
Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine mentions that jazz is 1% magic and the other 99% can be learned, deeply analyzed, studied and imbibed by the jazz musician or performer. If jazz being such a demanding genre does it like this, I am very sure any other style of music can be done for far less technical effort while still maintaining musical quality and sophistication.
80-20 Pareto principle also kindof makes sense, because you start small and then an avalanche snowball effect begins to happen. For the same amount of effort you begin to increase in intake capacity and output depending on what you want to focus on. Research more about this.
When I was even younger I used to get all distracted by 10,000 things around me, and I was still a school performer, used to DJ in night clubs, hang out with chicks and gangs and mostly play with bands in local scene and chill…till I got the internal sense sometime around age 23 that my time is limited and I should move on and do things in my own life with a newly found sense of focus. I no doubt have many privileges but I too have had my share of challenges in life, no one gets it easy. The trick that works for me is to be a little ruthless with your timesharing algorithm and not give other ‘threads’ any default high priority but rather keep them in a priority queue. Also life challenges as you mention are plenty in my life too, but you have to ask yourself the question, that inspite of being imperfect in our approaches, its our sense of perfection and productivity that guides us, and our time is limited regardless of what we do - so the real question is what do you really want to do?
The other theory is called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where this acclaimed psychologist refers to scale of priorities for human beings where safety and security comes at the bottom and self actualized needs and spiritual and intellectual needs take highest priority as a human being moves to the top of his own personal development. The fact that we are doing music inseparably means we are all actualized people with such a pressing need to be creative. So by all definitions we must take full advantage of it and not be a total rank and file oriented peoples who only thing about the last meal he has eaten and sleeps and wakes to think about where his next meal will come from, much to the chagrin of this particular demographic, is compared to the life and mindset of a street dog by a famous intellectual I can’t remmeber right now (maybe Noam Chomsky). What we as musicians and creatives and intellectuals and scientists are engaged in itself is an expression of our higher self that we must work hard to imprint in our very fabric of existence. Be very very proud of your life and your pursuits.
Key takeaways from this post : DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE.
Time management comes from discipline and routine. Daily interaction. Repeated engagement rather than periodic engagement. Your brain gets fired and your neurons grow stronger and permanent. Without the effort from your end, this part will not happen. WHo will you blame then, lady luck?? ho ho…she Will say, I don’t sleep with lazy folks…
Lastly, its what I call the gardening concept :
Each one of us has a personal garden gifted to us by this universe by virtue of our existence. How we maintain it and grow it and tend to it is completely up to us. Are you willing to plant the seeds, and water it ‘daily’, ‘find’ good material and soil to work with, ‘weed out’ redundant plants and insects, beautify and clean your garden, play with the arrangements and watch it grow?
Or do you want to grow old and see an entire life of negligence and laziness and have a rotting garden with dead plants and dry soil and full or insects and matter as an unsightly display of what is versus what ‘could have been’ with a little hindsight. ‘Could have been’ is a major excuse you will hear from folks who have a dead garden. Folks who have a live garden with birds singing everyday and drinking from the garden pool with fresh scented flowers will always talk about the beautiful experience of existence and the power it gives you as a testament to your toughness to stay put and be patient with the growth of every plant and tree in the garden. The rewards are rich, the size of the garden is just a metaphor, the garden is you my friend, not some fickle bank account number or some perishible goods and items list (along with receipts lol). You have to value yourself and work on it so that you realize what you have become rather than realize what you could have become.
I read a description of hell that I really like :
Hell is the place where you will have the live with the best version of yourself, another human being which is a you, who embodies what you could have attained and accomplished in this life, for the rest of eternity.
For those who will be in Heaven there is no Doppelgänger. Just you.
Finally I believe I have found one important ingredient to my happiness:
As a musician this example is even more sense worthy. To me, it does not matter what is your studio gear or setup based on what equipment you have purchased or how many drum sets or guitars you have, latest iMac and all that shebang. No amount of external purchases will EVER make you a better musician, unless you focus on yourself and work tirelessly to develop as a musician from the inside, working deeply with theory and technique as well as other associated skills. To get all caught up with this GAS or gear acquisition syndrome means just distracting yourself from the timeless framework and toolkit of music and music theory itself. By hypothesis, even if you had the access and resources to procure every single gear in the world and spend all that time fiddling round with that gear list, you will not have progressed even one iota towards being a musician, becos you have not invested in the true skill and appreciation of the internal self and internal source. You are the only one who can decide what you truly value, yestedays (soon to be) gear or the spanless internal and eternal self. If ones true asset of existence is the spirit and not the body or the trappings of this material world, it would be a great pain to leave with an unfurnished soul, an undernourished asset as the armour evaporates from this world and you travel naked to another realm. Hard kick, but too late then. Use it or lose it. No one ever says, ‘accumulate it’, becos that is the mentality of the materialistic world bogged down by low level in the Maslows Hierarchy of needs, the need for safety and security, so their levels of personal growth is never able to reach an optimal level as all the energies are dissipated in mindless rush for the next thing or a thing that brings material pleasure or just plain old entertainment. Nothing nourishing or enriching. Money is a misnomer. It has no owners only users. Like a prostitute, you can use it for as long as you can, and then as you transfer it to another person he will use it as long as he can. You never actually own a prostitute when she is with you, do you? Likewise with money. The only thing you own is yourself. Your time. Your energy. You both own your own time and you use it. How your own your own existence and how you use your time is totally upto you. Sacrificing time for money is a side effect of a dystopian society but time is never going to come back so like a high rent, it is getting less regardless of how we choose to spend it. So its best warranted to invest that fleeting time in pursuits of value and art is a timeless activity. Make sure you do your own research and build a priority list.
Like a martial artist who does not do pushups but likes to go shopping for new weapons to buy and feel safe about it. Locks only give a false sense of security and there are no guarantees in life. Searching for one is like searching for a virgin in a brothel.
Start by doing music daily, pick up an instrument, invest time with a real instrument, practice intervals and scales, do harmonic analysis, transcribe songs you love, read music again for the joy of it, remove stupid expectations of ANY kind and just engage with music daily and as much as you can from one single day to the next. Look for excuses to make music. Read and start small. No need to finish a library in one day.
Biggest music tip I can give from my experience, Start with a small musical nugget and work at it till it is etched in your brain. Work from there piece by piece. BTW that is how a lot others also do it,especially in the academic circles, ask any student or professor.
So there it is, lots of hacks, some personal, some well known and tried and true. Now the rest is upto you.
I was browsing though this productivity site today called MindValley. Check them out, lots of personal development concepts and videos in their Youtube channel. Books of course still have highest priority for me but a video once a while for such things are also OK.
Life is tough brother, but you have to make it look easy.
Vince Lombardi : “The person who climbed to the top of the mountain did not fall there”.
Mae West :“We all have only one life, but if you do it right even one is enough”
George Bernard Shaw : “The purpose of life is not in finding yourself, but in creating yourself”
AKA you already exist, now go do your thing.
N.B.: I sincerely feel for your autistic daughter and my best wishes for her and your family. I hope your wife is there with you and you love her and help her too. Anything I can help with you can let me know.