Like a lot of people, I bet you never seem to find the time to make music or just be in the studio. In this short blog post, I am going to provide some tips on how to actually manage your time more efficiently, prioritise your workflow and hopefully in the process to create a habit so you can make more music than you have ever done before.
The world is full of them, everywhere you go and look there is something always distracting you and taking away your focus. The biggest distraction is your mobile phone. How many times in an hour do you pick it up just to look at social media, text messages or check your e-mails?
When working in the studio turn off the phone so you are not disturbed, if you cannot do that then at least turn off the notifications and put on do not disturb. That way you won't be reaching for the phone every time it pings or vibrates.
This current generation seems to be obsessed with the fear of missing out (FOMO), why not turn this around into JOMO the joy of missing out. The first sure-fire way of improving your time management is to limit your immediate distractions.
This is in itself could take up the remainder of this blog post, but I will go into more detail in a future posting. Pomodoro is a way of focusing on one aspect of your task for a set period of time followed by a short 5 minute break. It is a well-known fact that concentration spans are short-lived and the human brain works best in short sprints. The way this technique works is to focus on an aspect of your composition for a period of no more than 25 minutes before moving on to something else.
There are a number of Pomodoro apps that help you set the time and some even run in your browser like this simple one here - TomatoTimer. So, fire up our Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of your choice and focus on your drums for 25 minutes, or fleshing out a general arrangement or working on that melodic hook. It's surprising on how quickly your track starts to form using the technique.
I went through how to make and use templates in one of my earlier blog posts - How to Compose Music, Fast, which you may find useful. Suffice to say that when I talk about templates I am describing a way of mapping out an arrangement of one of your favourite tracks. You can then use this template to add your sounds and melody but keeping an arrangement that just works.
This is also a handy technique when you are up against a deadline and faced with a blank page in your DAW. It is psychologically easier to start with something on a page than it is to have nothing.
Getting actually started in the studio is sometimes the hardest. Several years ago I found that I hadn't actually finished a track for several months. To get over this I set aside a specific 30 minutes every night to be in the studio. Just to actually sit in there with the computer on and your DAW fired up.
After a few days of doing this the 30 minutes gradually stretched to 45 minutes, then 1 hour, then 2 hours. I was actually starting to finish whole tracks again. This went so well I managed to make a catalogue of over 150 tracks in just over 2 years.
As Nike said 'Just do it", but sometimes you cannot seem to bring yourself to step into that studio. There's a conflict here and I find that treating it as a reward is helpful. How this works is to find a task that you don't like doing and follow this up with a stint in the studio, even if it is 30 minutes.
For example, you could do the ironing or vacuum cleaning and then head to the studio. It is surprising how you gradually look forward to the episode of going through a small amount of pain, the task, followed by being able to make music, the reward.
In this brief article I touched on 5 ways to form the habit of making music. Some of them seem ludicrously simple that you feel they could not possibly work. If you are struggling to finish music or even getting started in the studio, give at least one of these a go; what have you got to lose?