Today’s musicians/Artists are equipped with everything needed to create music: Protools (whatever daw), tons of plugins, instruments, midi controllers, records, laptops, applications, stolen apps, time.. etc.
Heck, there’s even video tutorials that show you how to use what you have.
Some will argue that ‘talent’ is needed, I will counter-argue with → any ‘talent’ or ‘skill set’ that can be learned over time.
With all this high-end technology and ‘johnny on-the-spot training at our fingertips, how does one avoid information overload? How does one stay productive and actually get some work done?
In my opinion, it all starts with preparation and lots of discipline. Here’s how I stay productive → use it, modify it, take it with a grain of salt… Do whatever you like except ignore it 🙂
1) A Nice Hot Beverage → Tea
This is my drug of choice. For most, it’s coffee, alcohol, comfort food, or maybe some sort of recreational drug(s). With me, it’s tea, and I had several cups throughout my sessions.
I’m not talking about that cheap Lipton sh** either!
I like tea because It doesn’t get me all hopped up or make me feel lethargic. Tea balances/relaxes me and overall, helps set the mood. I’m not sure if this is all in my head, but it sure does the trick.
My grandmother rattled on for years about the health benefits tea offers, she was all about herbal beverages and whatnot. I won’t go into that here – unless you’re interested of course 🙂
2) Clean Work Environment (Workstation)
I’ve always found it hard to create when my workspace was a mess. I think this stems back to my childhood. I never got over the ‘me, my, and mine’ phase. “Greg this house is MESS!” … “emm…uhh… my room is clean”
Even in relationships, I’m the same way. The whole place could be a mess, but my workspace, gaming area, and other areas where I create…Clean.
The same goes for my computer’s desktop, if it’s cluttered, I won’t be getting any work done.
3) No Internet Connection
First off, I love the internet… Don’t know what I’d do without it. Right now roughly 95% of my business is conducted via the interwebs. All the negotiating, contracts, file delivery, and payment processing… All of that happens online.
When it comes to creating music, it’s a different story, the internet becomes my worst enemy.
I could easily spend hours: checking emails, analytics on my websites, research, and all sorts of unnecessary business work… It’s madness, the only way for me to be productive is to disconnect the internet.
Do you have this problem?
4) Comfortable Clothing
Really? Yea, gotta dress appropriately for my environment and, I have to be comfortable at the same time. If I’m working from home, it’s Pj’s and, if I’m heading off to a recording studio it’s jeans (or Khakis), a short-sleeved shirt, and Chuck Taylors – I’m very simple.
I’ve tried the whole business look, it doesn’t work for me.
In fact, it’s hard for me to connect with audio professionals who wear business suits and ties. I don’t know what it is, just feels like I’m conversing with a facade.
I expect this attire at a record label, law firm, etc, but cmon, you don’t need to go out in the field or recording studio like that.
Just my opinion, short rant over.
5) Mind Mapping, Plans, Ideas & Goals
I’m a firm believer in goal setting and, I don’t mean ‘just’ writing them down, I mean breaking the goal(s) down systematically.
Anyone can voice or write down a goal, but without the proper layout/plan of action, nothing gets done. I normally start out with sticky notes, 1 idea per note, and onto my computer monitor it goes (around the edges).
Once my monitor gets cluttered (usually 8 sticky notes or so) I take the notes 1 by 1 and start building my mind map. 1 idea per note, 1 note per map.
Once the mind mapping is complete, I take action, 1 section at a time until the project/idea is complete and then I move on to the next one.
6) Setting Deadlines
I thought about adding this under ‘Goal Setting’, but decided not to because it needs special attention.
Studies show that people without deadlines get the least amount of work done vs people who do. Where is the study? I have no idea, just sounds cool to say 🙂
Truth is most people are procrastinators and, they generally don’t get anything done unless there’s a deadline attached to it. I’m one of these people and it’s the reason why I give myself 30 minutes to complete a track. It’s not because I pride myself in it or think it’s better to push tracks quickly.
It’s because it keeps me disciplined and I know if I give myself 5 hours I won’t actually start working until an hour or two before the deadline.
– That’s 3-4 hours wasted
When a company gives me a project I always short the deadline. Give me 2 weeks I’ll send the project back in 10 days, 1 week… 4 days, etc. I chart everything on my spreadsheet with an earlier deadline. I’ve been me for damn near 30 years and, I know how I operate best.
Not to mention, it’s a lot easier to commit 30 minutes vs x amount of hours, call it a mind hack, self-manipulation a Kickstarter… whatever, it works.
When I’m done with my 30-minute idea dumps, I’m full of creative juices as well as more music and ideas to pull from when push comes to shove and a project is due.
What are some things you do to stay organized and productive?