We’re starting off with a simple one. Sit down in your preferred work space, set your timer for 1 hour and start working. Remember this has to be a distraction free 1 hour so make sure you are able to focus only on the work at hand, whether that’s writing lyrics, melody or other production work. Once the hour is up, take a 10 minute break to celebrate and then go again.
Personally I use the built in timer on my phone, although you can download desktop apps if you prefer. Putting your phone on flight mode before starting can help you avoid the distraction of calls, messages and alerts. Whilst this tip is particularly good for those of you with jobs and commitments that you squeeze your music making life around, it’s just as useful for the full-time musician or producer.
In short, you work for 15 minute bursts, just set your timer and off you go. It works well for focussing on individual tasks like EQing a sound or comping vocals. In fact I used this technique to write this very post.
3) Remove Obstacles and Distraction
In the interest of research, I tried to write this post whilst watching episodes of ‘The Flash’ box set. My experiment was both a success and a failure. I failed to write and succeeded to prove this point.
The key to removing obstacles and distractions is to ask yourself, “What is stopping me from being more efficient?” It could be something physical like using your piano as a table, or something mental like having to check your phone for whatsapp messages every 10 minutes. Either way if you eliminate the obstacle/distraction, you will be able to focus.
In the modern world of unlimited channels and sounds it can be easy to get lost. Although creativity is equated with freedom it thrives under limitations. In fact these limitations force you to be creative and find a solution. Try this next time you want to boost your productivity, pick a certain number of chords or words to write your piece with and use only 1 instrument/synth in the entire piece. If you're an acoustic singer/songwriter then the reverse is probably true for you. In this case try writing a song without your guitar or piano. Use only one.
5) Just Get Started
Often the simplest way to be productive is to just do it. Look at your tasks and just go for it. You can either try tackling the hardest thing first or do something that will literally only take 1 minute, like adjusting a reverb parameter. You will find that once you have started, you will quickly get into the flow.
6) Set Targets
Whether you’re working in short bursts or have a long 12 hour session, it helps to know exactly what you want to achieve. This can also help you snap out of the habit of listening to a 16 bar loop for 30 minutes whilst mentally snogging yourself for your amazing skills.
Setting targets could be as simple as listing 3 things that you want to achieve in your session, like designing a bass synth, tweaking vocals and adding a drum fx. Of course if your session is a whole day break it down into parts, you may not like cricket but the ‘Test Match’ approach works perfectly well here. If you break your day into 3 parts for example morning, afternoon and final, then subdivide those parts so you can set milestones, you could aim to have all guitars recorded by lunch and the first draft mix done by tea.
7) Take a Break
It was only a matter of time before this one reared its head. Time away from the screen is massively important. You could take a creative break, in that you go away and listen to the song you’re working on elsewhere. This could be as simple as playing it with the studio door open whilst your in the kitchen frantically searching for biscuits. Alternatively you could go away and do something completely different. Maybe go for a walk, watch a film, shout at pigeons or read a book. Maybe you could even multitask and try reading while walking. No actually don’t that’s dangerous.
8) Don’t Take a Break
Ah yes, a bit of yin and yang going on here. A sudden interruption is one of the worst things to happen, when you’re in the zone. If you feel the music is flowing then don’t stop, keep going it’s fun. The moment you find yourself struggling a little, see point 7.
9) Stop Searching the Internet for Productivity Tips
I have been so guilty of this in the past. You could say that I’ve taken it so far that I’m now writing a blog on productivity rather than working on music!This point can be seen as a combination of numbers 3 and 5. The point is actually not to try all the tips in one session. You will go mad and perhaps not have the success you would like. Try a couple of tips first, see how you get on and if you find you need more advice, then of course launch your browser and don’t make songs.
Do you have any other tips? Feel free to share them with us.
Written by: Super Joshi
Super Joshi is an Artist and the Founder of "Buy My Tunes", which is launching soon. Follow him on twitter @1SuperJoshi.